Now that New Hampshire is in the rearview mirror, it’s full steam ahead to the South Carolina GOP Presidential Primary.
Fresh off wins in Iowa and New Hampshire, Mitt Romney is now seeking the knockout blow. A number of political pundits say it’s “game over” if Romney wins in the Palmetto State. Appearing on MSNBC Wednesday morning, South Carolina Democratic Party Chairman Dick Harpootlian said Romney is likely to face a roadblock or two in South Carolina which would include his Mormon faith.
“The evangelicals apparently in New Hampshire did vote for Romney. Here (in South Carolina) it’s going to be fascinating to me knowing the huge role the Christian evangelical community has played in the Republican Party in this state,” he told MSNBC anchor Chris Jansing, “Will they vote for guy whose faith is that the Garden of Eden is in Missouri? That doesn’t bother me, but it may bother the Bob Jones, very conservative Christian evangelicals.”
Harpootlian says attacks on Romney were lightweight in Iowa and New Hampshire compared to the body blows he is beginning to receive in various media blitzes by his Republican opponents in South Carolina, particularly over his role as CEO of Bain Capital.
“Newt (Gingrich) is already doing it. This idea that Mitt Romney is the “Gordon Gekko” of Capitalism, that greed is good,” Harpootlian said, referring to Michael Douglass’s infamous character from the movie “Wall Street,” “We are going to hear about a business up in Gaffney that employed 200 people. Bain Capital bought it from the company than owned it; put it in bankruptcy putting 200 people out of work in Gaffney, South Carolina.”
Appearing opposite Harpootlian, SCGOP Chairman Chad Connelly said that South Carolina has a history of picking the person who eventually wins the Republican presidential nomination. Connelly says Romney can expect a spirited and serious battle.
“I may be the contrarian, but I think it’s pretty wide open,” he said. “The other campaigns have great ground games. Gov. Romney is a pretty known factor here. He’s been ramping up with his team here on the ground over the past couple of weeks. But a couple of these campaigns are really going to surprise people. They’ve been here a lot. They’ve done a good job connecting with people and getting them activated and engaged. This is a wide open race”.
Connelly said Romney’s Mormon faith may be mentioned in the campaign, but voters are focused on more important issues like the economy.
“I believe it’s a storyline that’s out there, but it was out there four years ago and I think a lot of people are just past it. Right now they’re looking for the best person to beat Barack Obama. Our voters are looking at what happened in Iowa and New Hampshire obviously; but they are looking to meet these candidates and if they have question about faith or any other issues, they’re going to ask them and vet them out over the next 10 days.
The South Carolina GOP Primary is scheduled for Saturday January 21.