As we wait to see if Rick Santorum actually won the Iowa caucuses (it looks unofficially like he did), it's back to South Carolina . . .
Newt Gingrich has been knocking Santorum on his electability for the White for his 17-point loss to Bob Casey, saying the 2006 loss was "by the largest margin in Pennsylvania history." It was a really bad result for an incumbent for sure, but Gingrich is wrong on the facts: there have been three worse Senate losses in the state going back to the 1980s.
In 1988, Democrat Joe Vignola lost to incumbent Republican John Heinz by 1.48 million votes or 34 percentage points. In 1998, Democrat Bill Lloyd lost to incumbent Arlen Specter by 785,341 million votes, or 26 percentage points. In 1982, Democrat Cyril H. Wecht lost to Mr. Heinz by 723,453 votes, or 20 points.
But whatever Gingrich is up to in South Carolina it's working to Santorum's detriment. He's stuck at 4th in the polls, complaining about ads and getting hammered for his record in Congress. And the Romney campaign is obviously taking the former Speaker seriously, releasing the web ad above (called "Unreliable Leader") above.
The three days left before Saturday's polling may be the most critical ones of his presidential campaign, and he has to show voters his conservative credientials are better than those of Gingrich and Romney, argues Jennifer Rubin in the WashPost:
It’s hard to fight a two-front war, but in essence that is what Santorum must do. He’s got to convince voters he can take it to Romney if it becomes a one-on-one face-off, and he’s got to knock Gingrich down to third place. If not, it will be hard to maintain the argument that he is the most viable alternative to the front-runnner.
Interesting how Rick Perry kept calling Santorum "a good Catholic" during an appearance in S.C. yesterday, a state that is mostly Southern Baptist (as is Perry), notes Tom Fitzgerald at the Inky:
South Carolina is one of the most religious states in the nation, measured by attendance at worship services, according to various surveys. Yet only 10 percent of South Carolinians identify themselves as Roman Catholics – one of the lowest percentages in the nation, according to a massive 2010 Gallup Poll analysis of religious beliefs across the nation.
Now, there’s nothing especially nasty about mentioning Santorum’s religion, and it is factually true that he's Catholic. But the polls show that both Santorum and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, also a Catholic, are leading Perry overall and among Christian conservative voters.