Stephen Reader covers politics for It's a Free Country, WNYC's interactive politics site. He joined the station in 2010 and has also worked for Studio 360, WNYC's Peabody Award-winning show about art, culture, and creativity.
With Iowa and New Hampshire in the rear-view mirror, Republican candidates are making their pitch to South Carolina voters with expensive ad buys and fresh attacks.
Mitt Romney is in everyone's crosshairs this week, as he fends off attacks about whether he rescued struggling businesses at Bain Capital or pillaged them. Newt Gingrich has led the charge in South Carolina, where his television spots feature the former Massachusetts Governor more prominently than the former Speaker. Jon Huntsman and Rick Perry attempt to brush off their rocky starts with super-patriotic ads. Ron Paul hammers Rick Santorum, for some reason, while the latter claims he's got the best chance of beating Obama in a general election.
Anti-Romney Republicans have released a thirty-minute advertisement in South Carolina shredding his experience at Bain Capital, adding "job-killer" to a list of charges that already includes "flip-flopper" and "out-of-touch, mega-rich robot." What's a battered former corporate turnaround artist to do? Remind everyone that he invented Staples or whatever.
People are going to start thinking Newt has a thing for Mittens. This "Romney Says the Darndest Things" ad is almost two minutes long, and it's exclusively the front-runner saying things that he probably shouldn't have said. "I like being able to fire people." "I'm also unemployed." "Ten thousand dollars?" It even digs up that clip from the 2008 contest when he sang "Who Let the Dogs Out." Also, something about how he kept his dog on top of his car?
The takeaway being that this guy couldn't possibly beat Obama in a debate. Guess who can.
Forever trying to convince the GOP that he is the adult in the room, Jon Huntsman defends a blemish in his record: gaining first-hand foreign policy experience while in the employ of Barack Obama. This pales in comparison to the hurdles faced by the rest of the field, which include past extra-marital dalliances, inconsistent records, debate chokes, racist newsletters, and lewd neologisms.
Santorum says he has the best chance to beat Obama out of all the Republican candidates—which is kind of not true.
It's consistent for a candidate known for his consistency to call out others when they're inconsistent. Santorum's on the menu this week.
Fighter jets! Iwo Jima! "Don't Tread on Me!"
Ladies and gentlemen, the only positive, non-defensive campaign ad of the week.