MANCHESTER, N.H. (CBSNewYork) – The race for the Republican presidential nomination is heading south. Candidates have left New Hampshire and are now in South Carolina courting conservative voters.
After his decisive win on Tuesday, Mitt Romney headed to the “Palmetto State,” where some Christian conservatives have still not warmed up to him. And, as CBS 2’s Marcia Kramer reports, other candidates want to take advantage of that.
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For Romney, a win in South Carolina on Jan. 21 hinges on support from both conservatives and evangelicals.
“We were winning among all those groups so if I can duplicate that elsewhere I can become the nominee. I sure hope so,” Romney said.
One of the biggest threats to Romney in South Carolina is Newt Gingrich, who seems like he’s on a kamikaze mission to damage the former Massachusetts governor as much as he can.
No sooner had he landed in South Carolina did Gingrich send out a fundraising letter that let Romney know what the primary holds in store:
“We can either nominate a timid Massachusetts moderate Republican to take on a secular socialist, or we can nominate a bold Reagan conservative who will take the fight to Barack Obama in the fall,” the letter said.
“As his record is better and better known, I think he will grow weaker and weaker very fast because his record is so much further to the left than the average voter in South Carolina,” Gingrich added.
The other Republican candidates also tried to pile on.
“We’re going to challenge everything and it’s not just here. It’s Florida and beyond,” Rick Santorum said.
South Carolina is known for its multimillion dollar, often negative, ad wars. Already Gingrich is attacking Romney for switching from an anti-abortion position to supporting abortion rights.
“Romney appointed a pro-abortion judge, expanded access to abortion pills,” part of the ad says.
The worry for Republicans is that if Gingrich and the others do too much damage to Romney, it will make it more difficult for him to take on President Obama if he’s the nominee.
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