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Video: "The debates put Gingrich where he is now," says Henry McMaster.

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Gingrich benefited from debates, says former S.C. GOP Chairman

Video: “The debates put Gingrich where he is now,” says Henry McMaster.

COLUMBIA, S.C. — If Newt Gingrich wins the South Carolina primary Saturday, it will be because, for the first time in the history of the primary and the contest for the Republican presidential nomination, there were many televised debates that resonated with likely primary voters.

That was the opinion of one of the most seasoned Republicans in South Carolina, and one who insists he is neutral in the Jan. 21 primary contest.  Henry D. McMaster, who served as Republican chairman of the Palmetto State for four two-year terms (the longest tenure of any GOP chairman in the state) and is a former two-term state attorney general.

“The debates put Gingrich where he is now,” McMaster told HUMAN EVENTS, noting that where polls one week ago showed Mitt Romney with a big lead among likely Republican primary voters, the latest polls show Gingrich either tied or in the lead in the four-candidate field. In televised encounters this week — first in Myrtle Beach, S.C. and most recently in Charleston, S.C. — the former House speaker received high marks.

According to McMaster, “this is historic,” because just the heated and uncertain nature of the race is a major turnaround from what was widely considered a “slam-dunk” for Romney days ago.

McMaster, who was Ronald Reagan’s first-appointed U.S. Attorney back in 1981 and the GOP nominee for the U.S. Senate in 1986, was an early supporter of Jon Huntsman for President.  Since the former Utah governor abandoned the race a week ago, McMaster has insisted he is neutral in the primary and only wants “the candidate most able to defeat Barack Obama.”

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John Gizzi has come to be known as â??the man who knows everyone in Washingtonâ? and, indeed, many of those who hold elected positions and in party leadership roles throughout the United States. With his daily access to the White House as a correspondent, Mr. Gizzi offers readers the inside scoop on whatâ??s going on in the nationâ??s capital. He is the author of a number of popular Human Events features, such as â??Gizzi on Politicsâ? and spotlights of key political races around the country. Gizzi also is the host of â??Gizziâ??s America,â? video interviews that appear on HumanEvents.com. Gizzi got his start at Human Events in 1979 after graduating from Fairfield University in Connecticut and then working for the Travis County (Tex.) Tax Assessor. He has appeared on hundreds of radio and TV shows, including Fox News Channel, C-SPAN, America's Voice,The Jim Bohannon Show, Fox 5, WUSA 9, America's Radio News Network and is also a frequent contributor to the BBC -- and has appeared on France24 TV and German Radio. He is a past president of the Georgetown Kiwanis Club, past member of the St. Matthew's Cathedral's Parish Council, and secretary of the West End Friends of the Library. He is a recipient of the William A. Rusher Award for Journalistic Excellence and was named Journalist of the Year by the Conservative Political Action Conference in 2002. John Gizzi is also a credentialed correspondent at the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. He has questioned two IMF managing directors, Dominique Strauss-Kahn and Christine LaGarde, and has become friends with international correspondents worldwide. Johnâ??s email is JGizzi@EaglePub.Com

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