UPDATE: Newt Gingrich Wins The South Carolina Ham Showdown

newt gingrich, mitt romney

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Mitt Romney backed down from his ham showdown with Newt Gingrich in Greenville, South Carolina this morning, opting to avoid the awkward confrontation at Tommy’s Country Ham House in Greenville, S.C.. by showing up early for his event, according to reports from the event. 

In case you missed the dust-up, it came to light last night that Romney and Gingrich were both scheduled to meet with voters at the Ham House at the same time this morning. There’s more in the post below, but for a few hours it looked like the rivals were on a collision course that ended at Tommy’s.

Romney backed down this morning, however, by arriving early and making a quick exit before his scheduled time — and before Gingrich rolled up. By most accounts, the appearance sounds like it was a total disaster — reporters tweeting from the event said Romney did not use the microphone Gingrich had set up for his event, and as a result, was totally inaudible. And apparently, when he walked over a table, a woman fainted.

We weren’t there to witness, but the NYT has the story here.

ORIGINAL POST: 1/20/2012 9:20 p.m.

U.S.S. YORKTOWN, S.C. — Tensions are skyhigh in South Carolina, where Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich are duking it out for first place in tomorrow’s make-or-break ‘First in South’ primary.

The battle reached a boiling point tonight, when the Romney campaign announced that the candidate would meet with voters at Tommy’s Country Ham House in Greenville, S.C., at the same time that Gingrich is scheduled to be there tomorrow morning.

The Gingrich campaign was unruffled — an indication that they are pretty confident about their chances tomorrow.

“We’ve had this on our books for weeks,” Gingrich spokesman Nathan Naidu told Business Insider. “We’re going to be there, but the Romney campaign is welcome to come have ham with us at our event.”

A staffer for Gingrich said that she “woke up” Tommy (of Tommy’s Country Ham House) tonight, and that he told her the Romney campaign had not contacted him. (It’s unclear why Tommy was sleeping at 9 p.m., but whatever.)

Here at Gingrich’s last campaign stop of the day the incident has elated reporters. It caps off a day of back-and-forth jabs between the two campaigns.

Romney, in attempt to deflect attention from his still-secret tax returns, kicked off the battle this morning by demanding that Gingrich release the congressional ethics violations report from his time as House Speaker in the 1990s.

The Gingrich campaign hit back, calling Romney’s demands a “panic attack” and noting that Gallup polls show Romney’s lead in the 2012 race dwindling.