Despite the fact as was noted yesterday on Chris Hayes' Saturday show on MSNBC, that Newt Gingrich's national favorability ratings nationwide are absolutely terrible, that didn't stop Sen. Lindsey Graham and former Gov. Haley Barbour from trying to put their best positive spin on his win in the South Carolina Republican primary race.
Gingrich may be winning over Republican primary voters with the race baiting and a repeat of Lee Atwater's Southern Strategy, but that doesn't necessarily translate well to a national election. I'm sure Graham and Barbour are well aware of that, but that didn't stop them from trying to paint South Carolina Republican primary voters as being typical of the mainstream of the rest of the country.
Transcript via CBS.
SCHIEFFER: All right, if you can help me and call Governor Romney, I think we can make this work. Senator Graham, what happened down there? Did-- is-- is South Carolina just too conservative for Mitt Romney or is there a problem here that goes deeper than that with his campaign?
GRAHAM: John McCain won, Bob Dole won. Not the most conservative people in the world but good-- good Americans who impressed South Carolina in sobriety, Newt won. The debate Monday night in Myrtle Beach was probably the best explanation of conservatism in a bold fashion coming from Newt Gingrich I've heard in decades. And Newt not only won the debates. He convinced people that he could beat Barack Obama and electability was the issue before South Carolina primary, during the primary and on voting day. And Newt won. He's the guy that we saw forty percent of us, the best to go into the arena and beat Barack Obama. Governor Romney did fine. Rick Perry did very well. He had some stumbles by Romney. We had six hundred thousand people vote. The largest Republican primary in history occurred yesterday. And people were energized. They were looking close and they picked Newt. This was Newt winning more than anybody else losing.
SCHIEFFER: Are you ready to endorse him that sound, those were very complimentary words.
GRAHAM: Well, here's what I am willing to say. That Newt Gingrich has changed a lot in a positive way. This immigration issue is tough for our party, tough for our country. And Newt is putting on the table an idea that once you secure your borders and control who gets the job and you have to deal with the twelve million, we're going to have a rational system, most of them will have to go back. But if you've had a lady who has been here twenty-five or thirty years and has done nothing but be part of the community, committed an immigration violation, we're going to give her a second look. She'll have to learn English, pay a fine. She can have legal status, not citizenship. That's a-- that's a way of thinking that I think will help our party because she may have a young son or grandson who is in the Marines in Afghanistan. And I don't want a party who says to Sergeant Gonzalez, congratulations, you just won the Purple Heart. Unfortunately, we're going to have to deport your grandmother. I hope you get home before she leaves. Newt's putting on the table real solutions in a way today that he wouldn't have done in 1994. And that kind of maturing and thought I think is going to help the party and help him.
SCHIEFFER: Well let me turn to Governor Barbour here. Governor, you heard Newt Gingrich. He is painting Mitt Romney as the candidate of the Republican establishment. What I'm wondering, what is the Republican establishment these days?
BARBOUR: Well, of course, the Republican Party is a conservative party of the United States. The Democratic Party is the liberal party becoming more liberal daily under the Obama administration. But ours is a very diverse party, you have got economic conservatives, social conservatives. About sixty percent of the people who voted in South Carolina are like me they're Evangelical Christians. But I was interested and Lindsey touched on this. Two thirds of them said in the exit polls their first criteria was to vote for the person who had the best chance to beat Obama. And I think that's what most Republicans want. They're looking for the candidate as-- as Bill Buckley used to say years ago, we want the most conservative person who can win in November. And Newt was really helped by the fact that lot of people who maybe didn't think he could win three months ago have come to that conclusion. Of course, if we would have said three months ago that Bob, that Mitt Romney was going to win the South Carolina primary, we'd all laughed at that too. So a little of this was according to Hoyle, but I think Newt has-- Newt had a great week and debates really help him because as Lindsey says he can make it very plain why we're for the right things.
SCHIEFFER: Well let me ask you this. Do you now agree with the majority of those who said that they voted for-- for-- for Newt Gingrich that he is the one now who has the best chance of beating Obama? Do you think that?
BARBOUR: I think that-- I think that remains to be seen, Bob. Newt-- Lindsey mentioned Newt has become a much better candidate. He is a-- he is tremendous in debate. He's the best debater by far, not close. Romney strengths are more managerial and Lord-- there are a lot of people in the United States who understand we need some management after watching this administration for the last three years. We need somebody that knows how to get things done. Romney has in my opinion been very courageous to tackle the entitlement programs of the-- of the Obama administration. When the President makes his state of the state address this week, I predict he's going to say we need bigger government. We need more of people to be paid for the-- by the government. We need more people to be taken care of by the government. And Romney's had the courage to say now that's a losing proposition in the long-term. America is not based on an entitlement society but an opportunity society. So I think both of them have something really strong to offer. A long primary season, I think, is healthy in many ways as it gets personal. That's negative. But not nearly as negative as the Democrats are going to be, I mean, Obama can't run on his record--
SCHIEFFER: Let me.
BARBOUR: --so he's going to make the Demo-- he's going to make the Republican, whoever it is, somebody that his grandmamma wouldn't recognize or vote for.