Wednesday morning coverage:
Republican presidential hopeful Michele Bachmann will reportedly announce that she’s suspending her presidential campaign after a dismal showing in the Iowa caucuses.
A senior Republican official familiar with the congresswoman’s plans told CBS News partner National Journal that Bachmann came to the decision to effectively end her run, recognizing that “there was no viable way forward.”
Earlier, Bachmann canceled her campaign trip to South Carolina.
Gingrich never mentioned Romney by name as he spoke to supporters after an underwhelming fourth-place finish in the caucuses, but he did take a couple swipes at the Republican presidential race’s front-runner.
“Things that became obvious in the last few weeks in Iowa is that there will be a great debate in the Republican Party before we are prepared to have a great debate with [President] Barack Obama,” Gingrich told supporters with his wife Callista standing at his side . .
“And if the truth seems negative, that may be more a comment on his record than it is on politics,” he said. “So this is going to be a debate that begins tomorrow morning in New Hampshire, and will go on for a few months.”
Santorum’s best chance over the next several weeks is South Carolina. Like Iowa, it has many social conservatives, which are his core supporters. He has visited the Palmetto State 26 times and reportedly has a good ground game there.
Santorum has said he’s going to fight in New Hampshire, which votes Jan. 10. The goal would be to pare Romney’s big lead there and beat expectations again. Or he could focus his limited resources on South Carolina’s Jan. 21 primary.
Either way, South Carolina probably is a must-win for Santorum. He can’t afford to let Romney go 3-0, with victories in the Midwest, Northeast and South
So what does Santorum do now?
He needs to solidify his status as the anti-Romney, consensus conservative. The best way to do this is to show that he can consolidate that base in states other than Iowa.
But New Hampshire isn’t a natural fit for Santorum. In Iowa, 58 percent of Republican caucus-goers defined themselves as evangelicals. In New Hampshire, meanwhile, just 23 percent of 2008 Republican primary voters characterized themselves as such . .
So, why not go straight to South Carolina?
Sources close to the campaign say that Tuesday night’s strong showing in Iowa coupled with another one in New Hampshire could solidify the race as a Romney vs. Santorum contest. And more specifically, a battle between a candidate they will try to cast as a moderate (Romney) vs. the “true” conservative (Santorum). It was also evident from Santorum’s victory speech on Tuesday night that he is intent on framing the race as a contrast between his own blue collar roots and Romney’s far more privileged upbringing.
Santorum’ advisers argue that despite Romney’s lead in the polls in New Hampshire, they too have laid the groundwork to be competitive there. They add that although the former Pennsylvania senator has basically lived in Iowa for the past few months, he has managed to log almost as many days in New Hampshire as Romney.
Mitt Romney is counting on New Hampshire voters to resist their traditional contrarian practice of upsetting presidential front-runners and deliver him a victory so resounding that he’s set on the path to the Republican nomination.
Romney, who has held commanding leads in most statewide opinion polls during the almost three years he has been campaigning there, is looking to reinforce his claim to the party’s mantle after barely winning the Iowa caucuses. Anything less than a victory in New Hampshire (USUSNH) on Jan. 10 would hurt his chances even as it confirms the state’s reputation for keeping the candidates and the rest of the nation guessing . .
A Suffolk University/7NEWS tracking poll of likely New Hampshire Republican primary voters conducted Jan. 1-2 found Romney, a former Massachusetts governor, maintaining a significant advantage over his rivals, with backing from 43 percent. Paul was next with 16 percent, followed by former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman Jr., with 10 percent; former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich, with 9 percent; and Santorum, with 5 percent.
A group of movement conservatives [evangelicals — ed.] has called an emergency meeting in Texas next weekend to find a “consensus” Republican presidential hopeful, POLITICO has learned.
“You and your spouse are cordially invited to a private meeting with national conservative leaders of faith at the ranch of Paul and Nancy Pressler near Brenham, Texas, with the purpose of attempting to unite and to come to a consensus on which Republican Presidential candidate or candidates to support, or which not to support,” read an invitation that is making its way into in-boxes this morning.
The meeting is being hosted by such right-leaning figures as James Dobson, Don Wildmon and Gary Bauer. Many of the individuals on the host list attended a previous closed-door session with Rick Perry this summer.
U.S. Representative Michele Bachmann of Minnesota ended her campaign for the Republican presidential nomination after finishing sixth in yesterday’s Iowa caucuses.
“Last night, the people of Iowa spoke with a very clear voice and so I have decided to stand aside,” Bachmann said in a hotel ballroom in West Des Moines, Iowa. “We can leave this race knowing that we ran it with utmost integrity,” said Bachmann, who vowed to “continue fighting to defeat the president’s agenda of socialism” . .
The Minnesota lawmaker won support from about 5 percent of Republican Iowa caucus-goers. The leaders, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney and former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum, each got about 25 percent of the votes.