Newt Gingrich won big tonight in South Carolina, about as big as Mitt Romney did in New Hampshire. To some extent that reflects the differences between those states, but also, certainly, it is the result of momentum flowing in Newt’s direction as a result of the South Carolina debates and, somewhat weirdly, the ABC interview with his ex-wife.
This afternoon I was at a shooting range, and the guy working there, with whom I had chatted a little, noticed my GOP baseball jacket. “Are you voting for Newt?” he asked. I shook my head. “I don’t think so,” I said. “We have to win this one.” I could tell, though, that he didn’t see it that way, and he isn’t alone.
So, congratulations to Newt, and on to Florida. Let’s just pray that Barack Obama’s second term didn’t start today. If Gingrich does get the nomination, this may turn out to be a year in which Republicans more or less ignore the presidential race, ceding Obama his second term, and focus instead on trying to hold the House and, if possible, picking up a seat or two in the Senate, along with doing the best we can in state races where the wipeout at the presidential level doesn’t swamp all efforts to elect Republicans.