By Paul Gable
South Carolina has been tough on marginal Republican presidential candidates. Jon Huntsman left the race before Monday’s debate in Myrtle Beach and Rick Perry has reportedly told supporters he will leave the race today.
There are reports, unconfirmed, that there is behind the scenes maneuvering to reduce the number of social conservative candidates to one so that branch of the party can coalesce around one candidate in a stop Romney attempt.
That’s a shame because I rather liked Perry’s debate one-liners Monday and was looking forward to more from the CNN debate in Charleston tonight.
It’s not that Perry was going to win. He was consistently polling in the 5 percent range, but without the pressure of contender status he was providing some excellent comic relief.
It’s hard to tell how Perry leaving will affect those still in the hunt. Latest poll reports put Mitt Romney approximately 5 percent ahead of Newt Gingrich with Rick Santorum and Ron Paul 10-13 percent further back.
Gingrich has been calling for the other conservatives to leave the race so he could be the one to challenge Romney one on one. However, Newt has his own problems mounting as former second wife Marianne is going on ABC News Nightline, reportedly tonight, to tell the world about her cheating husband.
In December, Newt was riding high in the polls until the spotlight got on him and some of Marianne’s interview with Esquire last year got in the news. He has rebounded some since then, back to second place, and here comes Marianne live and in color. We are certainly getting proof that hell hath no fury as a women scorned.
Rick Santorum was declared the winner of the Iowa Caucus today, reversing the result initially announced two weeks ago. A recount of the votes now gives him a 34 vote victory over Romney.
This is not likely to help Santorum’s chances. He has been around the 17 percent level since receiving the support of a 170 member social conservative convention last weekend.
Romney remains the presumptive front runner in the race. He is best organized throughout the remaining primary states to come, but he still fails to put more distance between himself and the remaining field, which has to be somewhat worrisome to his campaign.
The Charleston debate tonight begins at 8 p.m. on CNN. Look for increased fireworks on the stage and an even feistier night than Monday in Myrtle Beach.
Two days to the polls and the race for South Carolina hearts remains wide open.