Newt wins South Carolina, Willard wins Florida

Paul Schwietering
After Newt Gingrich beat Willard “Mitt” Romney in South Carolina by 47 percent to 34 percent, Romney beat Gingrich in Florida by 46 percent to 32 percent.

The “Super Pac” supporting Gingrich broadcast negative ads against Romney in South Carolina, and the “Super Pac” supporting Romney (which is run by former Romney staffers) and Romney’s campaign spent at least $16 million in Florida, nearly all of it on negative ads against Gingrich.

It seems that the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision has changed the dynamics of political campaigns, and the change is for the worse. Romney spent 50 percent more than all the Republican presidential candidates combined spent in the Florida primary in 2008. At least seven individuals gave donations of $1 million each to Romney’s “Super Pac,” including multibillionaire Wall Street hedge fund managers such as Paul Singer, and multibillionaire Bill Koch. Billionaires now have more influence over elections than ever, and we have the Supreme Court to thank for it. Ninety-two percent of the ads in the Republican primary in Florida were negative, and 70 percent of all ads in the Florida primary were negative ads against Gingrich. Gingrich and his “Super Pac” were outspent by Romney and Romney’s “Super Pac” by at least 4 to 1 in Florida.

Romney failed to report in his campaign filings a half dozen of his offshore holdings (including some in the Cayman Islands) and some Swiss bank accounts. The Romney campaign says that they will revise the forms to include the missing accounts. Gingrich said Romney is “a liar,” “shameful,” “grossly hypocritical,” and “fundamentally dishonest.” Newt also said that Romney thinks the American people are “too stupid” to “connect the dots” and realize that Romney is Wall Street’s candidate.

While I am skeptical of the claims that Gingrich and Romney make for themselves, I am inclined to believe the things they are saying about each other. In any event, neither candidate is doing much talking about himself. Both candidates are spending most of their time and money attacking the other. These primaries are rapidly degenerating into a food fight.

Paul Schwietering is a former Democratic state central committeeman. He lives in Union Township.