The Iowa caucuses may have ended with Rick Santorum, Mitt Romney and Ron Paul on top, but the men who finished fourth and fifth — Newt Gingrich and Rick Perry — could still heavily influence the way the Republican presidential race takes shape moving forward by actively targeting Romney, the presumptive GOP frontrunner.
The the Los Angeles Times reported Tuesday night, "The results (in Iowa) were a clear setback for a pair of candidates once expected to contend for the nomination — Rick Perry and Newt Gingrich." Yet Gingrich and Perry — who earned 13 percent and 10 percent of the Iowa votes, respectively — have millions of campaign dollars to spend and essentially nothing to lose at this point.
The Hill reports Gingrich fundraised $9.2 million during the fourth quarter of 2011, and a significant amount of that money could be very well be used to drag other GOP candidates down a notch or two. Consider: last week Gingrich signaled his animosity toward Romney when he told Bloomberg News, "We're going to have a great time with Romney in New Hampshire. He'll win, probably, but it will be much more interesting than he wants."
Then Tuesday morning, Gingrich further upped the ante by calling Romney a liar on national television.
"During an interview with CBS News, Gingrich, who was the frontrunner in Iowa just two weeks ago, said it was 'baloney' that Romney had nothing to do with the ads from an independent group … which is backing the former Massachusetts governor," the the Boston Globe reported. "Those ads are credited, in part, with exposing Gingrich's personal and congressional vulnerabilities. As Romney has risen to the top of the most recent polls in Iowa, (Gingrich) has tumbled to the middle of the pack. … When asked if he was calling Romney a liar, Gingrich answered 'yes.' "
In October, the Washington Post reported that Perry fundraised $17 million during the third quarter of 2011. And although his fundraising has since curtailed, much of that $17 million still remains in his campaign coffers.
Late Tuesday night Perry did an about face from his previous plan to immediately begin campaigning in South Carolina by indicating he will instead return to Texas on Wednesday and reassess his campaign before proceeding further. Perry will definitely skip the New Hampshire primary on Jan. 10, but he didn't definitively rule out campaigning in South Carolina ahead of the state's Jan. 21 primary,
If Perry does ultimately remain in the race, he has already signaled his intention to center his South Carolina strategy on a direct attack against Romney's policy record.
"Looking down the line," USA Today reported Tuesday before Perry's late-night change of heart, "Perry said he would take the contest to Mitt Romney … by emphasizing the health care plan he instituted as governor of Massachusetts. That plan 'is not going to sell in South Carolina,' Perry said."