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GOP Smackdown: The Winner of South Carolina won’t be Romney, Gingrich, Santorum or Paul

There will be one loser in Saturday’s South Carolina primary: The GOP.  The winner will be Citizens United, which has unleashed the Godzillas of funding in the Battle of the Billionaires! Who will be the top in the schism of the selfish sects of the Republican Party? A handful of billionaires have spent more than 50 million in just three primary contests to gain control of the general election.  Which billionaire’s scheme will reign supreme?!

It’s a BIG BIG billionaire GOP Smackdown!

Tag Team One, the Wall Street billionaires. It’s housing bubble vulture John Paulson and uber-insider Sheldon Adelson.

They’ll face off against Tag Team Two, the crazed Christian billionaires: The DBC’s Foster Friess and his Libertarian loon friends the Huffines brothers, the Koch brothers, James Dobson, the DeVos family and the Coors clan.

This Saturday is the Alamo for the Christian and Libertarian Right. If they can’t score big in the reddest of the red states, then their flavors of Reaganism, draconian social agenda and dismantling the government from within will ride the back of the GOP bus for a decade or more.

They have to take down Wall Street guys who are with the Libertarians on ripping regulations, but they find that the Congressional Teahadis’ blind destruction of America’s shining credit rating last August unacceptably slowed their unbridled greed.

Romney is the darling of Wall Street billionaires. John Paulson, one of the biggest of the Romney backers, is a billionaire hedge fund manager who made a bundle betting on the collapse of the housing industry.  He’s worth a few million in the primary, and more in the general. He is joined by the owners of a multi-tiered marketing firm called NuSkin, a few other mega-wealthy hedge fund managers, some Bain Capital investors, and the Marriott family funding the pro-Romney SuperPAC Restore Our Future. They’re spending millions to slam the insider’s man, their only real spoiler: Nine Lives Newt.

Rick Perry departed from the race yesterday. His shot at Romney over the weekend has rattled through the media echo chamber as the revolving primary door hit him in the ass on the way out:

“There’s a real difference between venture capitalism and vulture capitalism,” Perry told Fox and Friends last week. “I don’t believe that capitalism is making a buck under any circumstances.”

Perry endorsed Gingrich, a politically wise calculation for a guy hoping for a VP nod.  He tends to court the same extremist Christian and Tea Party voters stoking the fire for Santorum.  Why not throw his hat in that ring? The two Ricks?  

Perry hopes that Gingrich needs him.  Newt is a pure-play old-school rebounder from the Hill to K-Street, in spite of his lip service to the Christian crazies and the Teahadis.

Gingrich, whose poll numbers have narrowed to a dead heat with Romney in the last few days, is looking for the South Carolina Miracle. He struggled with funding and organization early in his campaign after the over-spending that caused key staffers to resign.  The stops are coming out in South Carolina, though, as his rich backers see an opportunity to weigh in.

American Casino mogul and Israeli newspaper publisher, longtime friend and ally of Gingrich, Sheldon Adelson, backed one pro-Gingrich Super PAC, Winning Our Future to the tune of $5M.

The money is largely being spent in the show-down in South Carolina on advertising to defend Gingrich from the onslaught of the attack ads and to lash out at frontrunner Romney. [1][2]

Seabiscuit Santorum is hoping for a come-from-behind win, receiving another $1M in billionaire backing from Foster FriessRed, White & Blue Fund.

Santorum, along with Perry, is looking for that No. 2 slot on the ticket. He can deliver the Teahadi and the holy rollers, and remember which three agencies of the government the ticket will want to take a hatchet to.

The Paulies like to think of Ron Paul as the rugged individualist leading them to political liberty, but he has a PROPERTY OF sticker or two stamped on his forehead as well. Endorse Liberty ($3M+),a very shadowy SuperPAC spent nearly $1.4M to flood Google Adwords with pro Paul propaganda. Endorse Liberty’s billionaires remain in hiding behind the Federal Elections Commission (FEC) loophole that allows these new Super PACs to avoid filing their funding sources until the end of the month, after all of the big battleground primaries are over. 

The Santa Rita Super PAC run by Dallas real estate tycoon Donald Huffines is another big backer of the Texas congressman.   Paul has raised nearly $12M, 52% of it coming from shadow money sources in the Super PACs.

South Carolinians and Republican voters in Florida and elsewhere have several choices before them in the upcoming primaries. They can vote for:

  • Wall Street corporate raiders, via Mitt Romney;
  • K-Street fat cats, casino moguls like Sheldon Adelson with Israeli lobbying in mind, and insider Washington at its worst, via Newt Gingrich;
  • Christian fundamentalist/Libertarian Foster Friess, Focus on the Family’s James Dobson, the Dead Billionaires Club and their 19th century Libertarian agenda via Rick Santorum;
  • Texas-style Libertarian billionaire brothers Donald and Phillip Huffines, via Ron Paul.

The fractures in this frenetic fracas are not going to heal easily.  The economy is improving, and Romney, by far the best organized and best funded, is not winning over grass roots supporters with his richer-than-thou comments, like his gaffe about $342K+ in speaking fees being small change, or that going after him for his tax records is somehow class warfare.

The GOP has spent millions via various vituperous and vitriolic billionaire backers on a circular firing squad.

The only way that these campaigns may able to recoup some of those millions lost is by selling their ads to the Obama campaign, which is their only real beneficiary.

So, South Carolina, pick your poison.  Any way you choose, you’re damned if you do, and you’re damned if you don’t. None of these fellas are electable in a general. You may say it ain’t over ’til Chris Christie sings, but with lackluster turnout numbers and Romney working hard to turn off the little guy, this final major smackdown is going to cost more to the GOP than the millions spent in negative campaign ad dollars.

All hail Citizens United!

My shiny two.

About Brian Ross

Brian Ross is a writer, screenwriter, political satirist, documentarian and short filmmaker who blogs for Truth2Power, the Huffington Post, and the Daily KOS, among others.

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