This post has been updated.
GOP primary campaigns have a history of turning ugly once the campaign trail heads to South Carolina.
And to hear former House speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) tell it, this year will be no exception.
“And the voters of South Carolina have to look and decide,” he said.
The campaign has already taken a turn for the nasty in the Palmetto State; a pro-Gingrich super PAC is readying an attack on former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney’s record at Bain Capital; Gingrich is up with an ad hitting Romney on abortion; and a new ad from a pro-Romney super PAC calls Gingrich’s attacks “desperate” and says the former speaker “has more baggage than the airlines.”
Andrea Saul, a spokeswoman for Romney, said that the statement by Gingrich was an indiciation of how “desperate” the former House speaker’s campaign has become.
“It’s sad to see just how desperate Speaker Gingrich has become in an attempt to try and prop up his sinking campaign,” Saul said in a statement. “As he flails about, Gov. Romney will continue to talk about his vision for the country and the need to get Americans back to work.”
Gingrich told Morgan that his campaign’s goal is to win in South Carolina and then “we go to Florida; it is a brand new game.”
He also took aim at the fact that Romney – who swept New Hampshire on Tuesday – took less than half the vote in a state that considers him a favorite son.
“Remember, New Hampshire’s his third-best state after Utah and Massachusetts,” Gingrich said. “So if he only gets 37 percent in his third-best state and he can’t win here, then I think you’re in a very different nomination process.”
(For the record, Romney took 39 percent in New Hampshire, while Gingrich placed fifth with nine percent.)
Gingrich, a known zoo lover, was also asked by Morgan what kind of animal he would be if he could be any one on the planet.
“I’d probably be an elephant,” Gingrich responded. “They have 105,000 muscles in their trunk. ... It is unbelievable. It’s cool.”
Elephants, Gingrich added, are “big and they last a long time. They live a long time. And they’re smart. And they’re social animals, you know. So look — and very few things can attack them.”
What kind of animal would Romney be? Morgan asked him.
”I have no idea and I’m not going to go down that road.”
Today on the trail (Courtesy of the PBS NewsHour Political Calendar and campaign advisories; all times Eastern):
7:45 a.m.: Mitt Romney holds a rally at Cherokee Trikes & More in Greer, S.C.
8:30 a.m.: Jon Huntsman holds a campaign event at Honeycomb Cafe on Daniel Island, S.C.
9 a.m.: Rick Perry holds a meet-and-greet at Lizard’s Thicket in Blythewood, S.C.
10 a.m.: Newt Gingrich and J.C. Watts hold a campaign event at the South Carolina State Capitol in Columbia, S.C.
10 a.m.: Rick Santorum holds a town hall at Magnolia Hall in Sun City, S.C.
12 p.m.: Mitt Romney holds a rally at the Palm Beach County Convention Center in West Palm Beach, Fla.
12 p.m.: Rick Santorum holds a rally at Westin Hilton Head in Hilton Head, S.C.
12 p.m.: Rick Perry holds a meet-and-greet at Duke’s Barbecue in Orangeburg, S.C.
12 p.m.: Newt Gingrich delivers remarks at the South Carolina State Fair Grounds in Columbia, S.C.
2 p.m.: Rick Perry holds a Main Street walk starting at Murphy Law Firm in Summerville, S.C.
3 p.m.: Rick Santorum holds a town hall at Beaufort Yacht & Sailing Club in Beaufort, S.C.
4 p.m.: Rick Perry holds a Main Street walk starting at Coffeehouse Books in Walterboro, S.C.
5 p.m.: Rick Perry holds a meet-and-greet at Fat Jack’s Grillin’ and Chillin’ Restaurant in Walterboro, S.C.
7 p.m.: Rick Santorum holds a town hall at the Daniel Island School Multi-Purpose Room in Charleston, S.C.