With a solid South Carolina debate performance, and the endorsements of Gov. Nikki Haley, Sen. Tim Scott and Congressman Trey Gowdy, Sen. Marco Rubio’s Marcomentum is back. Gov. Haley is one of the most popular governors in the country. She has earned national recognition for her handling of the mass shooting at a black church in Charleston last June, including her successful call to lower the Confederate battle flag from the state capitol’s grounds. Haley is often mentioned as a vice-presidential prospect.
Is that enough to overcome Donald Trump’s double digit lead in South Carolina Republican primary polls? The Donald’s support may be collapsing after his disastrous South Carolina debate performance.
Can Marcomentum overcome the South Carolina ground game of Sen. Ted Cruz, which the campaign says is making 50,000 calls a day and knocking on more than 7,000 doors each day? The Cruz campaign has over 11,000 South Carolina volunteers, along with hundreds of out of state volunteers helping in campaign centers throughout the state. In addition, the campaign has campaign chairs and faith leaders in each county including 300 plus pastors and faith leaders who endorsed Cruz. On Friday, Cruz was endorsed by Congressman Mark Sanford, the state’s former governor. Sanford’s backing may help Cruz in the southern part of the state, where Sanford’s district is located. Cruz is already strong in the more-conservative upstate area. Cruz is feeling confident enough to change his schedule and attend the funeral of Justice Scalia.
The Wall Street Journal reports that the Cruz ground game is supplemented a Cruz-supporting Super PAC field operation consisting of more than 100 volunteers and paid workers are organizing in 10 counties in South Carolina. This is a new and more productive use of Super PAC resources than the usual role of “TV-driven attack dogs.”
With the Marcomentum come higher expectations. Team Cruz is doing its best to dive Rubio’s expectations higher saying Rubio now needs to win the South Carolina primary:
“If he doesn’t finish first, this is a massive loss,” Jason Miller, a senior Cruz adviser, said hours after news reports began circulating that Haley would endorse Rubio at a rally Wednesday evening. “Rubio has to win here.”
[. . .]
“From the beginning, they had a 3-2-1 strategy of finishing third in Iowa, second in New Hampshire and first in South Carolina,” Miller said of Rubio’s campaign. “Anything short of a first-place finish in South Carolina for Marco Rubio is a loss.”
Right, it was Rubio who set the expectation that he would win the South Carolina Primary. But Trey Gowdy is now saying third is all Rubio needs.