South Carolina: Live Blogging the Primary at Dad’s House — The City Online - Houston Baptist University

South Carolina: Live Blogging the Primary at Dad’s House

by John Mark Reynolds on January 21, 2012

The long time reader of these primary pieces will know our family has not been keen on the Gingrich candidacy. We think him unfit to serve in the office of President, but that doesn’t mean we do not appreciate the good he has done. The family rule has been that if we oppose a person to think of ten nice things to say about him. We owe him that as a brother in Christ.

So before what looks to be his day of triumph here are:

Ten Nice Things About Newt Gingrich

First, he believed in a Republican House majority when few others did. He has vision.
Second, he likes to read in an age when few politicians do.
Third, he is willing to consider ideas others ignore.
Fourth, he has been willing to take unpopular stands.
Fifth, he has been generous to several good causes.
Sixth, he is willing to call his misdeed wrong in an age of excuse making.
Seventh, he is a powerful stump speaker.
Eighth, he is willing to profess Christianity in a secular city.
Ninth, he is an excellent teacher.
Finally, Speaker Gingrich is beloved by his daughters. That says a lot good about him.

Having done that my family reminds me to say:

Ten Nice Things about Our President

First, he took the risk to take out Bin Laden.
Second, despite risks to his own friends he did not allow minors access to abortion drugs.
Third, he is a stellar family man: a good husband and father.
Fourth, he is a reader and engages ideas.
Fifth, he has a coherent philosophy of government.
Sixth, he has tried to implement the program on which he ran.
Seventh, he appointed his foe, Mrs. Clinton, to office.
Eighth, he is one of the best “set piece” (convention) speakers of my lifetime.
Ninth, despite encountering hostility he stays pretty upbeat. (Listen to him sing!)
Tenth, he was willing to become an adult convert to Christianity.


It is always good for my soul (and our family!) to do this. Before the returns come in I will also remember:

The Family Ten Commandments for Politics:

First, God is not an American. The Kingdom of God is not the United States. While I must be a good citizen, my first allegiance is to Christ.

Second, the Republican Party is not “pure” and never will be. I pick a party and work in it, but the Party is not the end. Loving my neighbor requires criticism of my party.

Third, I am not going to vote for Jesus. I cannot trust any “prince.”

Fourth, God loves the poor. A Christian mandate in this life is to argue for Biblical justice.

Fifth, God loves the rich. A Christian mandate in this life is to avoid coveting.

Sixth, I must love my political enemy.

Seventh, Jesus used “salty” language to describe opponents and so I can, but I am also not Jesus so I must be sure to use it well. All humans are created in God’s image.

Eighth, no election is that important. Right now someone is reading Plato for the first time. That is more important. Second, someone is finding Christ. That is much more important. News does not drive importance.

Ninth, being informed does not require super saturation. I can quit reading the returns at some point.

Tenth, I will remember that politics is an art not Revelation or a science. I will be frequently wrong and must change my mind.


And now for my predictions:
Gingrich 39
Romney 33
Santorum 16
Paul 15

As usual, I give my best case scenario for the candidate. That means they don’t add up to 100, but I put them in the order I think they will finish.

If I am right:

Gingrich: He must win. The bigger the win, the bigger the bounce. To be a real candidate, he must win by more than five.

Romney: If he wins, he is the nominee. If he loses, he will live to fight another day, but a bad loss means he will have to fight hard in Florida. Every CSA state could be a Gingrich win.

Santorum: Must place third or be under great pressure to drop out.

Paul: Faces no pressure whatsoever about anything.

Exit polls showing huge Gingrich win. More than ten points? If so, then Romney will have to sweat for the first time.

We blog the returns.

FOX calls it for Newt the second they can. Exit polls show him winning by 11. If that is so, then Romney will have a challenge.

Gingrich won all the key groups. Gingrich was picked as the guy who could beat President. I have to say that this is insane.

You might think Newt should win, but electable? Newt is the least electable Republican alive. Maybe he can win. Maybe.

Friends keep telling me the “debates” will do it. Why would Obama debate Gingrich? He will have a huge initial lead and can find many reasons to miss out on debates. He is under no obligation. Second, look at the visuals if he does debate. I will not list for you how bad Newt looks in Hi Def.

Gingrich is the Southern conservative candidate. Can he win outside the CSA? We will see.

My own belief: Gingrich will not wear well. He is now “winning” in his own mind and so in the next three days will bless us with a “Newtism.”

Can I vote for Newt?

Newt is not a competent leader and is unfit for the “bully pulpit.”
Obama is a competent leader, fit for the “bully pulpit,” but I don’t agree with his policies.
There will be a libertarian running. It might be Paul. I don’t see how he could govern and would be a mixed bag on policies.

I could also not vote for President.

Romney played not to lose in debates. He needs better performances.

We are back to the myth of the debates. Somebody needs to make the point that Obama:

1. does not need to debate at all.
2. is a good debater and would destroy Newt visually.
3. the base is not the only group watching a national debate.

So what would I do?

I must be careful not to overreact to one night’s bad news.

At the moment, I would either not vote for President or hope for a viable third party candidate.


I am not suddenly going to find that Gingrich is competent or fit.

He has never run anything well. He is not a conservative in the traditional sense, but seems unstable.

I don’t know. I am thankful that I don’t think I will have to decide.

Dad says that he cannot stomach seeing Gingrich. The women of the house have left.

Religion played an overwhelming role. Everything hinged on it. South Carolinians thought sharing religion was important and overwhelmingly supported Gingrich. Why?

I do not get that at all.

Romney concedes. Very gracious. He is a gentleman. He is taking on Gingrich now. It is a good assault, but he will have to release his taxes.

Gingrich is now at 40%. If that holds, then that is a huge victory. Romney looks tired, but he vows to fight on.

Should Santorum drop out and endorse Romney? Santorum knows that Gingrich is unfit. What should he do?

Lead is over ten now for Gingrich. Romney must release taxes now.

Ron Paul speaking. Paul is a fine fellow. He is fit for office, but I don’t agree with too many of his views. If he ended up being the last one standing between Gingrich and the nomination, I would vote for Paul.

I think Ron Paul’s wife is awesome. He also has a cute grandchild at every rally.

Santorum speaking.

He looks good. Romney looked tired, Rick looks charged up.

Rick is homespun. He is effective. We felt sorry for Romney, but Rick is charging up the room.

We must have an anti-Gingrich. If Rick were it, then good.

Where is Newt?

If you want a perfect image of why Newt is a horrid nominee, then look at the fact that he has not appeared yet. Where is he? Why is he moving out of primetime by waiting? Why is he making me blog past when I could stop? My wife is being forced to watch the news now when she wants to watch something else.

Newt on. Rumpled. Tired looking. Low key. It is smart to be low key. Newt is dull. We are seeing good Newt.

“The American people feel they have elites that . . . I articulate the deepest felt values of the American people . . . ”

“This is a remarkable system. . . ”

Newt gives a shout out to Santorum. Gives a shout out to anti-Federal Reserve issue. Newt is anti-Federal reserve?


This is wise. We are seeing good Newt.

He gives a shout out to Romney.


I will never vote for this man. He believes he is an “oracle of the people.”

He will run an American campaign.

We will move on to Florida and beyond: the angry old man with his half moon eyes laughs.

This is the most delusional man in America. He has disdain for Obama’s intelligence and puts out the fantasy of Lincoln-Douglas debates.

American exceptionalism versus (Fox News buzz word) Saul Alinsky.

More proof of the disaster: half our room had no idea who Saul Alinsky is. Newt is appealing to a small group (40% of the South Carolina party).

Anti-religious bigotry? Anti-religious bigotry is fueled by hypocrites who do not practice what they preach. One person in the room: “How does he have the gall to bring up this subject?”

Red meat for those who care more about words than deeds. Saul Alinsky?


Can he talk to anybody outside the base?

Final Thoughts

What did I get wrong?

First, South Carolinian Evangelicals will not vote for a Mormon. That explains most of the margin and looking at the counties in the map of South Carolina.

Second, hating on the media is more powerful in a GOP primary than I thought. I overestimated content and underestimated pyrotechnics. Stupid of me.

Third, South Carolina votes really don’t like Mitt Romney. Period.

Fourth, I was wrong about Sarah Palin. Not only has she not grown over the last four years, she has regressed. As a commentator she has nothing to say. Rod Dreher: you were right and I was wrong.

Newt over-performed.

This is not my Republican Party if Newt is the nominee. I will not have left the party, the party will have left me by nominating a man convicted of Ethics violations in Congress (!).

What did I get right?

The order of finish.

Where is the race?

Romney is still the front runner. Gingrich is a horrible general election candidate that would cost the GOP control of Congress. The delusion he is not has yet to be shown empirically.

Gingrich is about to face a whirlwind of opposition research to save the party.

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