Today was a fairly dramatic day in the presidential race.
For me, it began reading an interesting tidbit from Jim Geraghty’s Morning Jolt newsletter about Governor Rick Perry potentally quitting the race.
No, I thought…Not possible. Why would he drop out now? I would have understood Iowa, but he’s two days ahead of the first primary in the South. Surly if he’s looking to build momentum he’ll try his chances on Saturday.
Geraghty was on the same page:
I understand the logic of anti-Mitt folks calling on Rick Perry to drop out. I just can’t believe that the governor of Texas is being told to drop out days before the first primary in the South, the contest that would seem to be the most-friendly territory among the early states. (I also can’t believe Perry’s total in the past five polls in South Carolina: 6 percent, 6 percent, 5 percent, 5 percent, and 6 percent. If I were a pollster, I’d be calling back the respondents and asking, “Are you sure? Really? You’re a self-described very-conservative evangelical who describes reducing the government as your top priority and you’re not backing Perry? Are you absolutely certain?”
I suppose he could only take enough embarrassment. I had high hopes for Perry. I’ll always remember when he announced his candidacy; I was in Paris on my honeymoon, and my wife and I had stopped at an internet cafe to check our email. I hadn’t checked mine in nearly two weeks, and I saw a New York Times alert that he had jumped into the race. It was the first piece of American news I’d considered in weeks.
I’d been steadily following the hype about him entering. I read Kevin Williamson’s National Review story in April about Perry’s success as a job creator. He seemed a helluva lot better than Romney. But, in the end, he’s a bit like Greg Oden–just not ready for the big time.
In the end, It’s hard to feel sorry for anyone running for president. But, it just doesn’t seem fair to stigmatize the guy for a few lousy debate performances.
But, it’s over. Perry suspended his campaign and endorsed Gingrich. Brian Bolduc, at National Review, posted the text of the speech here.
Finally, I’ll leave the subject with Ross Douthat’s parting thoughts
The other big drama today was the media focusing on New Gingrich’s love life. Gingrich’s ex-wife Marianne, his second ex-wife, did an interview with ABC news where she says some nasty things about Newt.
Marianne claims that Gingrich asked her to be in an open marriage, so Newt could still carry on with Callista, his current wife. As the lede of the story says, Marianne Gingrich believes that Newt lacks the moral character to be president.
All of this is pretty awful stuff. It’s truly watching a train wreak. But, the question everyone is asking: Should this be getting played now? Two days before the primary? I’ll leave my readers to decide that.
I don’t think it’s fair. This isn’t exactly “news” is it? Gingrich and Marianne split up over a decade ago. If Newt was trying to keep this hidden, then I could understand how it may be brought up. But, in this situation, the story seems like a smear and will probably end up helping Gingrich in the end.
This leads into my next topic…
There was another debate today. CNN hosted their South Carolina debate, which I hope is the last before the primary on Saturday. I honestly didn’t watch the whole thing. My wife and I spent the first hour of the watching an episode from season one of Downton Abbey, which in my view is a lot better use of ones time.
Anyway, I watched most of the last hour of the debate and generally was impressed with all the candidates.
Gingrich was his usual self. He beat up on John King a few times and generally said some snarky things that the audience loved. Romney played it fairly safe. I see in the clips that he took a beating over his tax returns; he apparently still know if he’s going to release his tax returns before the primary. But, despite that, I don’t think Romney did anything that is going to paralyze him.
Santorum seems to be steadily fading away. Gingrich has sucked the air out of the room, and I fear that Santorum will just be limping along again. And, finally, Paul was Paul. He always does a good job, but he never wins the right people over. So, is that doing a good job?
On a lighter note, Ron Paul supporters put up a hot air balloon in South Carolina, but they inadvernatly slowed down traffic on a busy interstate. Ooops!