Some are sanguine about Mitt Romney's chances of wrapping up the nomination if he wins Iowa and New Hampshire—but Joe Scarborough's prediction in such case was nothing short of sanguinary.
On Morning Joe today, Scarborough predicted "there will be blood" among conservatives if they see Romney cruising to the nomination. Video after the jump.
Mark Halperin disagreed, suggesting that Romney would likely wrap up the nomination if he wins Iowa and New Hampshire. Halperin predicted that no one will drop out after Iowa, leaving the South Carolina field filled with conservatives, thus splitting the conservative vote and helping Romney. Note also that Scarborough suggested that Newt Gingrich keep his powder dry, apparently believing he is the person conservatives might rally around to stop Romney.
I'll be back with a transcript, but in the meantime, watch Scarborough make his bloody prediction.
JOE SCARBOROUGH: I will tell you this. I know this sounds crazy, but if I'm just looking at the field right now: keep your head down, don't blow yourself up in Iowa, because there's going to be a lot of teeth gnashing and weeping after the guy that's got a 24% ceiling wins Iowa and the conservatives split. Cause everybody's going to start looking and saying OK, who is the conservative? We are not going to allow a guy that has the 24% of the moderates in the Republican party voting for him, while this conservative party pushes another, let's say, Gerald Ford to the finish line. By the way, I need to explain this. This isn't necessarily what I feel. I need to explain this. I'm telling you, as I predicted, crazy never wins in the Republican party, and it doesn't.
But the Republican party, just like I said when Newt Gingrich was at 38, 39% wasn't going to stand for that, they're not going to stand for the guy who has a 24% ceiling walking away with their nomination. Anybody who thinks it's going to be over after Iowa and New Hampshire, if Romney wins, does not understand the conservative base. There will be blood if Mitt Romney seems like the guy who's going to walk away with it . . . So, Mark Halperin, do you think it's over if Mitt Romney wins out?
MARK HALPERIN: I think it is, Joe. I know you think it won't. And I do think there will be this spasm of conservative angst, of saying it can't over, he's not the right person.
SCARBOROUGH: They should have thought of this before!
HALPERIN: They should have thought of it before. I mean, if he wins Iowa I think he will roll out of New Hampshire and I think he'll be in a strong position in South Carolina. Willie and I were talking, as we like to say, off air, about the notion of people dropping out. I don't think anybody's going to drop out. I think even Michell Bachmann will go, try to fight on in South Carolina. It's perfect for Mitt Romney to have a crowded field in South Carolina.
Question: did Scarborough contradict himself? On the one hand, he tells Gingrich to keep his head down, suggesting that Newt might be the person conservatives rally around in an effort to stop Romney. A minute later, Joe seemed to be citing the precedent of Gingrich's big lead being chopped down as an example of how conservatives won't stand for certain candidates walking off with the nomination. So which is it?