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Debate Preview: Romney's Desperate Make-up Sex

Tom Dotan |
January 18, 2012 | 4:42 p.m. PST


Courtesy of Creative Commons
Courtesy of Creative Commons
South Carolina prides itself on being a throughway for Republican presidential candidates. Beginning in Ronald Reagan's 1980 march to the White House, South Carolina predicted the winner for every Republican pick. 

Figures then that the Romney machine is scrambling to staunch the bleeding from a peaked debate performance, a series of gaffes, and slagging poll numbers ahead of Saturday's primary.

On Wednesday, Romney still had a 10-point lead over the fast charging (and top heavy) Newt Gingrich. The latest revival of the Gingrich brand came after Monday's debate when the former speaker jiujitsu-ed accusations of racism into both a slam on Obama's jobs record and a belief in the inherent worthiness of all hard workers. And likewise the worthlessness of people on food stamps, but never mind that as he was preening for the crowd.

The debate audience, which was hyped up like the old Arsenio Hall show, gave a raucous standing ovation. And the sounds of hands clapping revived Gingrich like Tinker Bell. Meanwhile Romney made a mental note to fire up the attack-o-matic that deflated Newt in the run-up to Iowa.

But Romney has another enemy to worry about now--namely himself. Since Monday's debate, Romney has let fly a stream of stinkers that both cast him as a financial finagler and perpetually out of touch.

He has refused to release his tax-returns, giving an oleaginous answer that he'll likely do it in April and at a point when the primary is decided. 

The bits he has revealed however may be even worse. His marginal tax rate is 15 percent as most of his income is from investments therefore subject to the capital gains rate. Even worse, Romney made an off-handed comment that what income he does have is "not very much." Indeed in 2011, it's a paltry $374,327.62.

Coupled with that is the late-breaking (and it should be noted unconfirmed) ABC News revelation that he has millions stored in a Cayman Islands account. There could very well be a logical and pragmatic explanation for this fact, but regardless it's not the kind of thing you'd hope for someone crafting a "man of the people" image--even if they are bad at hunting.

Yet premonitions of the Rompocolypse are widely overblown. The Republicans put themselves in this situation of a (still-ish) inevitable Rom-ination by exausting every other option.

Even if Gingrich pulls off another primo showing and enough to split the victory with Romney in South Carolina, the ground game is still Romney's to dominate. The spark of the unlikliest of upsets, if it ever is to happen, needs to be on Thursday.

Barring that, the primary is as good as done.


Reach Editor-at-large Tom Dotan here.

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