Newt Gingrich: Challenges ahead, but 'he's still dangerous'
Newt Gingrich is taking flak from his GOP rivals and some conservative commentators on things like Freddie Mac and his ideas about the federal judiciary. But as his fellow debaters have learned, he can be a well-armed and highly-confident opponent.
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“This is going to be a controversial conversation,” Gingrich accurately observed in his conference call Saturday.Skip to next paragraph
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Much can happen between now and the Iowa caucuses Jan 3. No more debates, so it’s a ground game in the Hawkeye State – which is why Gingrich held another conference call there Saturday, this one with supporters and potential supporters he took questions from. And oh, by the way, repeatedly urged to become precinct captains.
How’s Gingrich doing now that he’s soared to front-runner status?
Some recent headlines indicate the challenges he faces: “Newt Gingrich’s general election prospects look bleak” (Washington Post) “Gingrich Momentum Slows, Polls Suggest” (New York Times) “Iowa GOP governor unsure of Gingrich's discipline” (Associated Press)
“The debates have held out the alluring promise of a New Newt,” National Review editor Rich Lowry wrote this week. “But beware: The Old Newt lurks.”
As Republican Mark McKinnon and Democrat George Caudill point out at Newsweek’s Daily Beast website, “Politics is all about momentum and timing. You want your curve headed up, not down, as you go into Election Day.”
It was not good news for Gingrich that the governor of a state he hopes to do well in – Nikki Haley of South Carolina, third in the nominating contest behind Iowa and New Hampshire – just endorsed Mitt Romney.
But there’s a certain healthy looseness about the Gingrich campaign, somehow lacking the desperation one feels now and then from his Republican rivals. And as his fellow debaters have learned, he can be a well-armed and highly-confident opponent.
“Most of those around President Barack Obama would still prefer to take on Gingrich rather than the better funded and organized Mitt Romney,” writes Glenn Thrush at Politico.com. “But if Romney is a conventional enemy, Gingrich poses an asymmetrical threat: He’s simply a more dangerous, talented and unpredictable political actor than Romney.”
“Romney is playing not to lose and Newt thinks he has nothing to lose,” Phil Singer, a former adviser to Hillary Clinton in 2008, told Politico. “He’s facile enough to sound convincing on almost anything and has the gift of framing complex issues in their simplest terms…. He’s more dangerous as a surrogate than a candidate, but he’s still dangerous.”