As the Republican primaries grind on, it becomes clearer by the day that Mitt Romney is the weakest GOP frontrunner since former Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole ran against Pres. Bill Clinton, and lost, in 1996.
The comparison with Dole presents a historical paradox. One of the biggest factors that hobbled the Senate leader’s campaign in 1996 was his close association with his counterpart in the House, Speaker Newt Gingrich. While Gingrich was not on the ticket that year — Dole’s running mate was a GOP liberal, Jack Kemp — the Clinton campaign deployed a relentless barrage of television ads that tied Dole to Gingrich, who was, and remains, the most unpopular and divisive figure in American politics.
The irony lies in the fact that, in the current cycle, Gingrich is playing a role opposite to the one he played in 1996. His campaign for the nomination, which should have died before it began, is now the key factor propping up the campaign of Mitt Romney’s favor, the putative frontrunner.
In primary after primary, Gingrich has peeled off votes of the GOP’s teavangelical, neo-Confederate base from Rick Santorum, often denying Santorum a win over Romney, as he did in Ohio, or nabbing delegates that would have otherwise gone to Santorum, as he has done just about everywhere else, including in Alabama and Mississippi last night.
“Thank God for Mississippi.”
– Unofficial slogan of Alabama
A new survey from Public Policy Polling finds that 46 percent of Mississippi Republicans not only oppose interracial marriage, they believe that individuals who marry someone of another race should go to jail.
On a positive note, it is at least progress that these Mississippi racists see prison time — not lynching — as an adequate penalty for race mixing.
Just 40 percent of GOP voters in the state say they think interracial marriage should remain legal, while 14 percent are not sure.
These results are especially interesting considering the fact that there are few places where Pres. Obama, the product of an interracial marriage, is more despised than Mississippi.