Newt Gingrich is not only a fierce competitor – he is also an angry one. The Romney campaign pelted Gingrich so hard with a series of attack ads in Iowa that they brought down his poll numbers by several percentage points. Now the Gingrich camp is hitting back in South Carolina with a string of negative abortion ads in an effort to slow Romney’s momentum.
The former Massachusetts governor has changed his abortion stance over the years and now says he is pro-life. This issue has remained a sore spot for Romney, allowing his opponents to take the opportunity to remind voters of Romney’s previous support for abortion rights.
Gingrich’s latest ad refers to Romney as the “pro-abortion” governor of Massachusetts.
Abortion and other social issues are important to most Republicans in South Carolina, since over 60 percent consider themselves to be “born again,” or evangelical Christians.
What Gingrich, former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum and Texas Gov. Rick Perry are counting on are for these voters to prioritize their social conscience over political expediency when they go into the voting box.
After his disappointing caucus results in Iowa, an angry and frustrated Gingrich rolled into New Hampshire with Romney as his prime target.
“Memo to Newt: Bitter, angry and cynical is no way to campaign in the Granite state,” wrote political analyst Patrick Griffin, who is also a senior fellow at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics. “I assume Newt will hang around for a while bashing Romney for being a capitalist,” he added.
Gingrich and Santorum, both of whom are Catholic, have for the most part ignored each other and stuck to hitting Romney in order to lay claim to a close second place finish in the Palmetto State. But Romney has cut Gingrich no slack, and to the dismay of Gingrich and the other GOP hopefuls, he has the bankroll to make their political lives miserable.
Restore Our Future, the Super PAC that is supporting Romney, is focusing on the former House speaker’s personal character, saying “he has more baggage than the airlines,” an obvious hit at Gingrich’s much publicized marriages and affairs.
“The story is an intensifying level of advertising in which Gingrich is still getting pounded, but Romney is now the focus of about as much negative as positive paid media,” read a report produced by CMAG, a firm that analyzes political campaign ads.
Moreover, Romney’s campaign announced on Thursday that they raised $24 million in the last quarter of 2011, bringing their total to $56 at year-end. Only Perry had been able to keep pace with Romney, but his disappointing finishes have all but dried up his campaign coffers.
According to a new InsiderAdvantage poll in South Carolina, Gingrich is trailing Romney by two-points, 23 to 21 percent, with Santorum farther behind with 14 percent. The poll was taken on Wednesday and surveyed 726 registered voters.
Nevertheless, in the days leading up to the Jan. 21 South Carolina primary, the GOP candidates will have ample opportunity to sway the state’s evangelical voters. The Faith and Freedom Coalition will host events prior to the Fox News debate in Myrtle Beach and The Response prayer rally will be held in Greenville the following evening.
Rounding out the week will be the CNN debate in Charleston that coincides with the Southern Republican Leadership Conference where most of the GOP candidates are scheduled to speak.