Roger L. Simon

South Carolina Report: Republican Chaos Yields New Candidate?

What a day…. Newt’s sex life. Mitt’s Cayman life. Rick Perry’s sayonara. Ron Paul blocking traffic with an air balloon? Whoever said South Carolina would be boring?

My flight from DC to Charleston was like the “zoo plane” revisited. I had been on that press plane before — twenty five years ago when (I kid you not) I was sent by Universal Pictures to write an (obviously never filmed) movie with Whoopi Goldberg as a member of the White House press corps. I was able to hitchhike a ride on the “zoo plane” then (a 747 filled with showoff reporters that trails Air Force One) when it followed Reagan to Florida to deliver a speech at a Tallahassee high school

But that was another era and another me. Still, this trip, on a commercial flight, was even more star-studded with media lights making the trek from the nation’s capital for what promises to be the biggest knock-down, drag-out fight yet of this debate-happy campaign.

On the flight with me, I spotted Paul Begala, the shall-we-say loquacious Deborah Wasserman-Schultz, and Romney-supporter Bay Buchanan. (No, they weren’t sitting together, as I’m sure you might guess.)

Seated next to me, entirely by accident, was onetime PJ Media contributor, among many other things, Fred Thompson. Irony of ironies, the last time I had been to Charleston was to interview Fred in 2008 at the beginning of his presidential bid.

We discussed the campaign so far. I won’t detail the former presidential candidate’s views here. I didn’t ask, but assumed they were off the record. But suffice it to say, like most of us he’s worried about the Republican bloodletting and what it means for the general election.

I met Bryan Preston at the airport. We dropped Fred at his hotel and checked into ours, which is crawling with almost as much media as the OJ trial.

The concierge asked: “You guys are from the media, eh? Who’s going to win here Saturday?”

I said: “He’s from Texas and I’m from L.A. You’re from here. You tell us.”

“I think it’s gonna be Newt,” he said.

“What about all those affairs coming out?”

“Does anybody care about that?” said the concierge.

Who knows? Newt’s poll numbers are exploding here — or seem to be. The results are anybody’s guess and the debate tonight grows in importance. But however it turns out, the Republican Party may be headed for a train wreck.

Just then, PJ Media legal editor J. Christian Adams walked up to us. We asked him to join us for lunch.

“I can’t,” he said. “I’m too nervous. I have to work on my speech.” I looked at him curiously. “I’m on the schedule to speak tomorrow between Gingrich and Ron Paul.”

Wow, I thought. I knew Christian had done some excellent work for us and others. But this was impressive.

Then it struck me. The way things are going, the Republicans need a fresh candidate without a lot of baggage.

Yes, I know he’s never been elected to anything. But he has a great family, he’s a really smart guy and a superb lawyer. And one thing’s for sure — he’d never have Eric Holder as his attorney general.

Adams in ’12. It starts now. I’m going to the debate with him tonight and we’ll see if it has legs.