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As debate approaches, Republicans, conservatives target Newt Gingrich

As front-runner in the Republican presidential nominating race, Newt Gingrich is a natural target for critics. At this point, it's mainly conservatives and fellow Republicans questioning his character and leadership qualities.

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“My vote is not connected to someone else’s repentance, it’s connected to their record,” Gordon told Politico.com. “I don’t trust him and I have no reason to trust him. He has done nothing to earn my trust.”

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Meanwhile, the conservative commentariat has laid into Gingrich as well.

“He has every negative character trait that conservatives associate with ’60s excess: narcissism, self-righteousness, self-indulgence and intemperance,” writes New York Times conservative columnist David Brooks. “As nearly everyone who has ever worked with him knows, he would severely damage conservatism and the Republican Party if nominated.”

Like Brooks, Peggy Noonan at the Wall Street Journal says Gingrich’s temperament and character would be his (and likely his party’s) undoing.

“He's philosophically unanchored, an unstable element,” she writes. “There are too many storms within him, and he seeks out external storms in order to equalize his own atmosphere. He's a trouble magnet, a starter of fights that need not be fought…. He is a human hand grenade who walks around with his hand on the pin, saying, ‘Watch this!’”

Speaking on ABC, conservative Washington Post columnist George Will said Gingrich “embodies almost everything disagreeable about modern Washington.”

“Gingrich has a self-regard so immense that it rivals Obama’s – but, unlike Obama’s, is untamed by self-discipline,” charges Charles Krauthammer, Will’s fellow conservative on the Washington Post op-ed page.

Gingrich, Krauthammer wrote last week, is “possessed of an unbounded need for grand display that has already led him to unconservative places even he is at a loss to explain, and that as president would leave him in constant search of the out-of-box experience – the confoundedly brilliant Nixon-to-China flipperoo regarding his fancy of the day, be it health care, taxes, energy, foreign policy, whatever.”

And those are just Gingrich’s fellow Republicans. You can imagine what use Democrats will make of that if Gingrich becomes the Republican nominee.

It will be interesting to see if Romney, Ron Paul, Rick Santorum, Michele Bachmann, and Rick Perry pick up on the same themes at Saturday night’s debate.

The Monitor's Weekly News Quiz for Dec. 4-9, 2011

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