“Newt Gingrich and Rick Perry are scheduled to address a ‘Pastors and Pews’ gathering in South Carolina on Thursday, giving both presidential candidates the opportunity to court Christian conservative leaders in the key primary state,” Politico writes.
BACHMANN: She won’t attend the Trump debate either.
GINGRICH: He leads in a national FOX poll 36%-23% over Romney. Paul is third with 12%, Perry 8%, Bachmann 5%, Santorum 4%, Huntsman 2%, per Political Wire.
“As media scrutiny and attacks by rivals intensify, Newt Gingrich is facing the first test of a new discipline on display as he seeks the Republican presidential nomination,” Bloomberg reports. “It’s a measurement sure to come as critics, and Gingrich himself, have said the temperament question -- can he hold his tongue and keep his temper -- is one of the biggest unknowns of his rising campaign.”
Peggy Noonan, per GOP 12: “Ethically dubious? True. Intelligent and accomplished? True. Has he known breathtaking success and contributed to real reforms in government? Yes. Presided over disasters? Absolutely. Can he lead? Yes. Is he erratic and unreliable as a leader? Yes. Egomaniacal? True. Original and focused, harebrained and impulsive—all true.” But: “He is a human hand grenade who walks around with his hand on the pin, saying, ‘Watch this!’”
PERRY: “Once again, intense backlash has caught the Rick Perry campaign flat-footed,” The Texas Tribune writes. “Opposition to Perry's new ad denouncing the repeal of ‘don't ask, don't tell’ and declaring that he'll end ‘Obama's war on religion’ took on new life Thursday as critics slammed the governor for pandering to evangelical Christians.”
ROMNEY: The Romney campaign is hitting Gingrich on the Paul Ryan plan, but National Review notes: “[W]hile Romney never criticized Ryan’s plan, he didn’t immediately embrace it, either.”
The Washington Post’s fact checker gives Romney three Pinocchios for his assertions that he is “ ‘bowing’ to foreign leaders” and for “his propensity to play golf.” “Both of these appear to be unfair shots, taken out of context. The notion that Obama has “bowed to dictators” is basically false, and it is debatable whether he bowed to any leader but the Japanese emperor. Reasonable people can disagree on what happened with the Saudi and Chinese leaders, but that still does not excuse the blanket statement that Romney made. The golfing Web site, while amusing, is also out of bounds. Yes, Obama golfs a lot. But he also has not taken much time off, which is what the Web site strongly suggests when it urges putting Obama on ‘permanent vacation.’”
SANTORUM: On the Donald Trump debate, he said in a statement: “Many of my opponents jockeyed to be the first to fly up to New York and use Donald Trump for a photo op and no doubt try and secure an endorsement. But when Donald wants to moderate a debate – they refuse to attend. That’s what’s so wrong with politics today – hypocrisy. At this critical time in our nation’s history, just weeks before Iowan’s cast this important vote – many of the other candidates want to hide behind TV ads and mail pieces. We plan to be there front and center in person to debate Newt directly, and if it’s just the two of us, we’re fine with it.”