In recent days, however, the South Carolina contest has become more than a contrast of politics, a “choice” between two candidates on substance and style. Instead, it has evolved (or devolved, depending on whom you ask) into a brutal, internecine GOP war.
On the trail, Gingrich continues to hammer Romney not so much for his positions but for his past, casting him as an aloof corporate raider. And on the Palmetto State airwaves, a pro-Gingrich super PAC is spending $3 million to underscore that theme, sponsoring a lengthy and controversial film, King of Bain, about job losses connected to Romney’s former firm.
As the primary approaches, Gingrich’s top backers, both inside and outside of the campaign, are counting on the scorched-earth maneuvers to pay off, and to lessen Romney’s growing aura of inevitability. In a state with high unemployment and a diminished manufacturing base, they say, it’s strategic to highlight Bain, and in a tough race, it’s more than fair to play hardball.