There will be one less candidate in the FOX News GOP South Carolina debate tonight. Jon Huntsman is expected to drop out of the race and throw his support behind Mitt Romney. Most polls show Mitt Romney as the clear forerunner in South Carolina. There is
a large segment of voters in South Carolina that are still undecided. A FOX News Poll shows that President Obama and Mitt Romney are in a statistical tie if an election were called today. Obama would have a clear advantage. A new Rasmussen poll released on January 16th contradicts this. Romney has an advantage over Obama 48% to 39%. The poll asked who would you trust more to do a better job with the economy.
The debate tonight will be feisty to say the least. Expect further attacks on Governor Romney regarding his time as CEO of Bain Capital and the alleged vulture capitalism. Rick Santorum, considered by most voters in South Carolina as the most conservative candidate will try to expand his lead over Newt Gingrich. Santorum was endorsed by 150 evangelical ministers in Texas this weekend. There is a likelihood that Santorum may provide another surprise in next week’s primary.
Who will survive the South Carolina primary remains to be seen. Ron Paul with a strong base of support will continue with his campaign beyond South Carolina. Rick Perry, who had a rethink after his mediocre performance in New Hampshire will definitely reassess his campaign. If Newt Gingrich peters out in South Carolina it will probably be the end of the trail for him. Eventually it will be a match between Mitt Romney and a social conservative.
Expect Mitt Romney to further define his roll at Bain Capital, while Perry, Santorum and Gingrich hammer away at him. Santorum will try to demonstrate why he is the most conservative candidate and will hack away at Newt Gingrich’s Congressional record. Gingrich will highlight Santorum’s voting record.
Rick Santorum has the most to lose tonight and he has to be able to establish a clear distinction between himself and Gingrich, while also trying to attempt to stop the Romney surge. Yes it will be a feisty debate. It begins at 9 pm ET