GOP presidential debate (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

In a blog entry at the Washington Post, columnist Jonathan Capehart says that Mitt Romney may have won the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary, but he will face stiff competition as the other GOP contenders hack and slash at one another and him as they head to South Carolina. Still, Romney is clearly in command.

Rep. Ron Paul (R-Tex.) is the confirmed second-place finisher. Even though I’m told I shouldn’t discount him, especially since he has now racked up a strong second-place finish, I can’t take the guy seriously and y’all know why. A man who allows racist, homophobic and conspiratorial views to go out in a newsletter bearing his name and then is aghast when he’s asked about it should come nowhere near being the official occupant of the Oval Office.

Jon Huntsman is the confirmed third-place finisher. Sure, he put all of his eggs in the Granite State basket by moving up there and campaigning like crazy, only to come in third. But the former ambassador to China and former governor of Utah finished in a much better place than the polls suggested he would just a week ago. More importantly, he did better than Rick Santorum, who was a dinner party short of snatching victory away from Romney in Iowa. Huntsman did better than Newt Gingrich, who is now a one-man flame thrower against the frontrunner, and Rick Perry, who has joined Gingrich in roasting Romney.

And so the GOP clown car — as it’s been called — will roll along fully packed to South Carolina for the Jan. 21 primary. But as we have seen in the past, the Palmetto State is the Camp Crystal Lake of electoral politics. It will be ugly. It will be intense. It will make the red-hot rhetoric since Sunday’s “Meet the Press” debate seem like a parent-teacher conference. Paul, Huntsman, Gingrich, Santorum and Perry will hack and slash at each other and at Romney in the hopes that they and their presidential aspirations will leave South Carolina alive. The only problem for them right now is that Romney is the one with the keys to the car.

Read Jonathan Capehart's entire blog entry at the Washington Post.