What I saw in South Carolina

I came here wondering how voters would react to the charge that Mitt Romney was a corporate vulture when he ran the private equity firm Bain Capital. I asked dozens of people. They were all familiar with the attacks, thanks to the TV ads. Almost everybody thought the charges were ridiculous, even supporters of Newt Gingrich.

A realtor looked at me dismissively: Sometimes deals work, he said, sometimes they don’t. You have to be efficient to survive. That’s the way capitalism works. Romney’s opponents would have been smarter to hit him for being a flip-flopper, not a businessman.

I was also struck, as in New Hampshire and Iowa, by the mood of this year’s rallies. Republican audiences this year want a restoration. America once had strong values, they believe, but we have gone astray. We’ve got to go back and rediscover what we had. Heads nod enthusiastically every time a candidate touches this theme.

I agree with the sentiment, but it makes for an incredibly backward-looking campaign. I sometimes wonder if the Republican Party has become the receding roar of white America as it pines for a way of life that will never return.