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Poll: Gingrich Surges in South Carolina

Today’s Rasmussen poll appears to confirms what other surveys have been showing the past day and a half. Newt Gingrich is surging in South Carolina, and now holds a small lead on Mitt Romney:

Gingrich……33%
Romney……31%
Paul…………15%
Santorum….11%
Perry…………2%
Other…………1%
Not Sure…….6%

With just two days until South Carolina voters head to the polls, those numbers could still shift significantly the next 48-hours. As Jonathan wrote earlier, Gingrich will almost certainly get a boost from Rick Perry’s exit and endorsement.

The Marianne Gingrich interview airing on ABC tonight will also be a factor. Based on the clips ABC has teased out this morning, it could cause real problems for Newt as he and Santorum continue to face off for the evangelical conservatives vote. At the very least, the interview will shift Gingrich’s focus from playing offense against Romney and Santorum to playing defense against the comments from his ex-wife.

But there’s also the chance the interview could actually end up helping Gingrich. As Jonathan pointed out, the timing of its release, and the fact that his disgraceful behavior during his marriage to Marianne is considered “old news,” could raise charges of media bias from conservatives. If it looks like ABC is trying to influence the primary by airing the interview tonight, conservatives may end up rallying around Gingrich and dismissing his ex-wife’s claims.

This would be a mistake. The scandal with Gingrich is much more than just an affair. Voters should ask themselves what kind of person could treat his wife the way Gingrich did, and then go out and give public lectures on morality and family values without shame? This type of hypocrisy, the notion that there’s one set of rules for you and another for the rest of society, is the antithesis of what Americans have always sought from their politicians.