AUDIO of Palmetto Primary report.
Things are pretty quiet in South Carolina as presidential campaigns focus on the first real test, the Iowa Caucuses. The polls there are still too close to tell, and the top six candidates are clearly in survival mode.
Gallup is calling this the most volatile GOP primary ever.
Mitt Romney is holding onto a slight lead, with more than 40 percent of possible caucus-goers yet undecided. Months of door-to-door politicking have paid off for former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum. He has risen to second in the polls there.
Ron Paul is still at a close 3rd and has brought in his son Rand to campaign with him. South Carolinian Chris Barczak and a group of Ron Paul volunteers took a road trip to witness and help in the caucus process.
Barczak expects to make a precinct pitch for Paul.
Native Iowan Michele Bachmann has fallen out of popularity, because, some senior media there saying she was not as accessible as other candidates at events. Bachmann says her next stop is South Carolina.
Newt Gingrich is frustrated with Romney’s advertising attack against him and, after pledging to stay away from negative ads, has lashed out at the former Utah governor in interviews. He is sitting at 4th place right now.
Kenny Bingham, SC House Majority Leader, today endorsed Gingrich. Bingham has represented Lexington’s District 89 for nearly a decade.
South Carolina Congressman Mick Mulvaney is in Iowa to help Rick Perry, who is in 5th place now. Next, Perry is headed to South Carolina. Perry has the campaign funds to keep going for a while. Mulvaney says he talks with Perry regularly and recently hosted a dinner in Washington with the Texas governor to plan campaign strategy.
Radio Iowa’s News Director O. Kay Henderson has the best vantage point and experience to explain the process. She says voters’ minds can be changed at the last minute, more often than people like to admit.
“They go to caucus and they are going with their friends and neighbors. They may have voted with their next door neighbor in very election since 1972. If their next-door neighbor is the person standing up and telling you to vote for Rick Santorum and you go in there expecting to vote for Rick Perry, that could be a very intense moment, ” Henderson says.
Back in South Carolina:
In South Carolina, Gingrich has picked someone with a storied Republican name to help with campus campaigning. Sally Atwater, daughter former RNC chair, the late Lee Atwater, has joined the South Carolina Newt 2012 team to work with Students with Newt and as the Young Republican liaison for the state.
Ron Paul has made a large ad buy in South Carolina, focusing on his pro-life and outreach to veteran’s messages. In Iowa, he stayed with an anti-war message. That may change in South Carolina, a pro-military state.