Despite Mitt Romney’s loss in the South Carolina primary, few of his supporters seemed worried about his prospect of clinching the nomination.
David Smoot, a real estate developer who drove down to Romney’s primary party from his home in Raleigh, N.C., said he believed Romney’s second-place finish would encourage him to defend his record more forcefully. He chalked up the loss to “unthinking voters” and insisted that Gingrich would never become the Republican nominee.
“If you want someone to lead the country, why would you let a serial adulterer be our standard-bearer?” asked Smoot, 76. “If jobs are the issue – why would you not want someone who is a proven economic genius against someone who has not done these things, but has drawn a salary either directly or indirectly from the public till all this time?”
“We can’t let the misguided votes of a few determine the future of the country,” Smoot said.
Carl Watson, 79, a retired investment banker from Columbia, said he wasn’t surprised by the results because a number of his friends had shifted their support to Gingrich after Monday night’s debate in Myrtle Beach. They concluded, he said, that Gingrich “would outdo Obama in the debates and that Mitt Romney didn’t.”
“The debates made the difference here,” Watson said. He also argued that “CNN and ABC did [Gingrich] a great favor” by airing excerpts of the interview with ex-wife Marianne Gingrich and creating a backlash among South Carolina voters who believed the coverage was unfair. But like Smoot, Watson argued that Gingrich has too much baggage to be the party’s nominee.
“The people who were in Congress with him don’t like him and he’s an egomaniac,” Watson said. “He’s a good debater and he’s very smart, but I don’t think he’ll have a good Cabinet or staff because he’s always got to be smarter than everybody.”