Face the Nation this Sunday: Barbour, Graham
This Sunday's guests are former Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour (R), South Carolina Republican Senator Lindsey Graham (R), Joe Klein of Time Magazine, Kelly Evans of The Wall Street Journal, and CBS News Political Director John Dickserson.
All eyes are on South Carolina. Can Newt Gingrich slow Mitt Romney's momentum after his big win in New Hampshire, or will Romney continue his winning ways and reclaim his air of inevitability as the Republican nominee in a state that has voted for every eventual GOP nominee since 1980?
Two fiery debate performances, and Rick Perry's departure from the race and endorsement, have propelled former House Speaker Gingrich into a slim lead over Romney in the latest polls in South Carolina. At the start of this week, the former Massachusetts Governor appeared to be the inevitable nominee, but Thursday he suffered an embarrassing setback when a recount of the Iowa caucus votes showed him trailing Rick Santorum by 34 votes, after "winning" the Iowa Caucuses two weeks ago by a slim 8 vote margin.
Besides learning that he didn't win Iowa, this week Romney faced a barrage of criticism from his competitors over his OWN taxes. After equivocating over whether or not he would release his returns, Romney pledged to do so in April. That led Gingrich and others to ask what he had to hide from the voters of South Carolina and other states voting before tax season. After Romney admitted he probably pays about 15% of his income in taxes, news organizations also jumped on Romney's taxes, reporting on his having money in offshore accounts -- notably in the tax haven Cayman Islands, as well as having millions tied up in IRAs. "My taxes are carefully managed and I pay a lot of taxes. I've been very successful and when I have our -- our taxes ready for this year, I'll release them," said Romney in Thursday's debate. To make a point of Romney's reluctance, Gingrich released his tax returns, showing he pays about 32% in taxes, just before the debate.
If Gingrich wins in the Palmetto State Saturday, then three different candidates would have won each of the three first contests. This is a split that many Republicans had hoped for, but one that seemed all but impossible after Romney left Iowa and New Hampshire with two wins.
But a lot can happen in a few days, or even a few hours. Thursday may go down as one of the strangest days in modern American political history. To cap it off, Newt Gingrich's ex-wife went on television to question his moral character saying that he had asked her for an open marriage so he could continue to be married while having an affair with a staffer who would become his third wife. Gingrich vehemently denied this and when CNN began its Thursday night debate with the allegation, Gingrich launched into a fiery attack on the media.
"I think the destructive, vicious, negative nature of much of the news media makes it harder to govern this country, harder to attract decent people to run for public office. And I am appalled that you would begin a presidential debate on a topic like that," said Gingrich.
What will the South Carolina results mean for the race to the nomination? Would a Romney win in South Carolina all but give him the nomination? What does a Gingrich win mean for the race? Has the week's focus on wealth and taxes given President Obama something to use against Romney if he's the nominee?
Those will be among the issues discussed by top Republicans Haley Barbour and Lindsey Graham. Time's Joe Klein, The Wall Street Journal's Kelly Evans and CBS News's John Dickerson will also give their take on South Carolina results as they join Bob Schieffer to Face the Nation.
- Robert Hendin
Robert Hendin is senior producer for "Face the Nation" and a CBS News senior political producer.Follow on Twitter »
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