By Paul Gable
Holding a 43 percent to 14 percent edge over second place Ron Paul in recent New Hampshire polls, Mitt Romney is making a trip to South Carolina beginning today.
Needing to demonstrate a strong showing in a socially conservative evangelical state, Romney will begin his visit in Charleston this afternoon. He will be accompanied by S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley and 2008 Republican nominee John McCain who endorsed Romney yesterday at an event in New Hampshire.
Romney, Haley and McCain will appear at a “grassroots rally” at the Peanut Warehouse, 107 Main St., Conway tomorrow morning beginning at 7:45 a.m.
South Carolinians will also see Romney on television often until the First in the South Presidential Primary January 21st. The Romney campaign recently completed a $260,000 buy for television ads in the major South Carolina markets including Myrtle Beach/Florence.
South Carolina may hold the key to what will happen in the Republican presidential nomination race after next week’s New Hampshire is over.
December 2011 South Carolina polls showed Newt Gingrich on top of the field with 35 percent with Romney running second at 20 percent. But, that was before Gingrich began free falling in the polls late last month and coming in a poor fourth in Iowa.
The Iowa primary mixed things up as Rick Santorum, a darling of social conservative evangelical Republican voters finished in a dead heat with Romney. Santorum is polling 4 percent in South Carolina but is expected to rise based on his Iowa showing and Michelle Bachmann’s withdrawal from the race.
Rick Perry announced he was going to reassess his campaign after a poor showing in Iowa, but, after Bachmann withdrew yesterday, Perry tweeted that he was going to South Carolina as was originally planned. He needs a strong showing in South Carolina to remain viable.
Over the next two weeks, we will see plenty of Romney, Gingrich, Perry and Santorum. The results from the January 21st primary will give an indication of whether Romney remains the front runner for the nomination or whether social conservative evangelicals still refuse to support him.