Today’s the South Carolina primary and it’s not looking good for the once-presumed front runner Mitt Romney. For starters, the campaign is already prepping for a primary loss by managing expectations, predicting the nomination fight will run through to the summer. This comes as reports continue to suggest that any support Romney had nationwide was collapsing.
Even Romney’s good news comes with strings. Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell endorsed Romney Friday morning, and then promptly called on Romney to release his tax returns that afternoon. McDonnell is the latest of a string of conservatives calling on Romney to release his tax returns, including Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown. Newt Gingrich must be loving this.
While the former Speaker of the House may be on his way to a primary win in South Carolina, he backed out of a speaking engagement at the Southern Republican Leadership Conference on Friday. His campaign cited poor attendance at the conference as the reason, but given the media attention to Newt’s “open marriage” proposal to his second ex-wife, conservatives can’t be happy with the slight.
It also begs the question of just how much influence christian conservative voters really have anymore. Attendance at the SRLC has been meager, and Rick Santorum was the only candidate to make an appearance. Their support for Santorum in Iowa likely pushed him to victory, but with no real national campaign presence and flagging media attention, it would appear that both nominee front-runners have decided that those voters face no other choice but to come around to either Gingrich or Romney sooner or later.
And because what this primary needs is for things to get even stranger, let’s all welcome back Herman Cain. The failed candidate and pizza baron joined Stephen Colbert at a rally dubbed the “Rock Me Like a Herman Cain South Cain-olina Primary” that was as much performance art as it was political rally.
Cain must be up to something, because he’s been chosen to give the Tea Party response to Tuesday’s State of the Union address. The President’s address comes fresh off progressive victories with the Keystone Pipeline, insurance coverage for birth control, and the shelving of PIPA/SOPA. And let’s not forget a not-too-shabby rendition of Al Greene’s “Let’s Stay Together.”
So Cain’s got a tough act to follow, but he’s clearly looking to make his way back into the public eye, so at least we know the response will be memorable.
Photo from Gage Skidmore via flickr.