Newt Gingrich hasn't backed off his attacks on Mitt Romney's business record despite condemnation from just about every Republican who's ever been elected to anything, and maybe that's because he knows what a new Washington Post poll shows: they're working. The Post's Dan Balz and Jon Cohen report that 34 percent of Republican voters see Romney's history at Bain Capital unfavorably, compared to only 20 percent a month ago. That's an increase of almost 75 percent.
Gingrich "needs to lay off talk about Romney’s tenure at the Bain Capital private equity firm or too many S.C. voters will see him as angry and 'attacking' capitalism," The State's Gina Smith warns. But that seems to be more true of the "Republican establishment" than regular people. Romney benefited from the Bain attacks, Mark Halperin writes at NBC News, because "Establishment types thus far disinclined to offer support have been turned off" by them. But Romney hasn't gotten very good at not sounding like an odd rich guy -- in Monday's debate, he claimed he was "delighted" when he was invited to go hunting, had a "fairly meandering" response on Bain, Politico's Maggie Haberman says, and when he was asked whether he'd release his tax returns, his cryptic answer "would have made Bill Clinton proud," NBC News' First Read says. Here's a bit of real evidence that South Carolinians aren't that enthused about Romney: ABC News' Jon Karl tweets this photo of Romney event 20 minutes into its start time:
Karl calls the crowd "small and not enthusiastic." And BuzzFeed's Zeke Miller notes that that's after Romney's campaign divided the convention hall in two to make it looked more packed.
Unfortunately for Gingrich, however, his modest success at tearing Romney down hasn't managed to build him up. The Post poll shows that 51 percent of Republicans have an unfavorable view of Gingrich's private sector background -- his consulting gigs for Freddie Mac, among others. Weirdly, while Bain was once considered Romney's biggest strength, the thing that was always considered his greatest weakness, his health care record, is now a factor in just 20 percent of Republican votes.
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