Jon Huntsman was just about the only thing that kept the GOP shambles of a presidential race from looking like it consisted entirely of whack jobs. Granted, I don’t like that he bit the hand that fed him (meaning, of course, the Obama Administration), but that’s just politics.
Based on the debates I watched in which he participated, he was knowledgeable, gentlemanly, and didn’t get drawn into the cesspool of dirty eat-each-other-alive politics any more than necessary. In other words, he was the sole anomaly in the race – and now, according to Fox News, he’s going to announce his withdrawal on Monday.
So now there are just five: Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum, Ron Paul and Rick Perry. Perry’s no doubt going to be the next to fall, leaving the other four vying for the hard right dominionist/evangelical/get-in-our-bedrooms-and-wombs voting public, which every GOP candidate has been quick to court.
Romney’s leading the race in South Carolina, according to recent polls, for vast and mysterious reasons – but the state doesn’t seem to see his el destructo reign at Bain Capital as a negative attribute. Catholics Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum are competing in a state full of evangelicals who rather openly don’t believe Catholics are “true Christians” – so only lord god jesus himself knows what people in South Carolina think of the religious beliefs of Mitt Romney, a Mormon.
Gingrich has his two divorces and infidelities (along with a lot of lobbying dough he’s collected) to overcome in a state steeped in its own version of morality. Gingrich is going after the tea party support (wait, is that even a movement any more?) and he’s happy because the state has indicated it isn’t looking for purity in its chosen candidate. He shouldn’t be quite so gleeful, though – the state’s powers that be also say they’re looking for a winning candidate.
One would think in a stronghold of social conservatism like South Carolina Rick Santorum would rule the day, but so far it’s not being called like that.
South Carolina’s Tea Party Governor Nikki Haley has endorsed Mitt Romney, leaving South Carolinians with gaping jaws. Some believe it doesn’t matter who she endorses, as she’s not particularly well-liked, her poll numbers show her at a full ten percentage points below President Obama, and she isn’t functioning as any “king-maker.”
Speculation will abound, and the South Carolina primary will no doubt be a complete and total crapshoot. The good news about the only sane candidate, Huntsman, withdrawing is that we now only have to have one term to refer collectively to the GOP candidates: Whack jobs works for me.