Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul scored well as they attempted to use Thursday’s presidential debate to boost their chances in this week’s South Carolina vote. Both men know that if they fail again to stop Mitt Romney taking the victory, the path to the White House will become much more difficult.
Newt Gingrich started the night by deflecting the fallout of an interview with his ex-wife Marianne. The interview had been billed as a ‘bombshell’, but as predicted it was something of a damp squib. For Newt, it was fairly easy to take the moral highground here, and the interview doesn’t look like it’s going to cause any lasting damage to his campaign.
The showstopper of the night was Ron Paul, with the audience chanting at one point for him to be given a chance to answer a question. Was the hall stuffed with Paul supporters? That seems unlikely, and Paul – who has been fairly low in many of the South Carolina polls this week – could still pull off an upset. If he wins in South Carolina, the GOP race will be thrown into disarray.
The most likely winner, though, remains Mitt Romney. He laid low on Thursday night, probably aware that he has nothing to gain and everything to lose. He has not been gaffe-free, but fortunately (for him) none of his gaffes have stuck. As has been the case throughout this campaign, Romney seems to be keeping his head down and hoping to get to the nomination without having to do too much. It’s a strategy that seems to be working so far.