Here’s the Nonsense: Mitt Romney is so far in the lead that no one can catch him now. He’s defeated Gingrich and now there’s no serious competition for him so the others should just quit and go home.
Here’s the Horse Sense: The path to the GOP nomination is much longer than many want you to believe. Gingrich may have been dealt a devastating blow in Iowa and responded poorly, but last night's debate in South Carolina shows it may not be anywhere near over.
Newt Gingrich has been reeling since Mitt Romney’s Super PAC mercilessly attacked him in Iowa. Clearly Newt took it personally and was hurt by the attacks, which caused him to make a serious mistake by letting his emotions drive his response. Yet it’s interesting that even though it’s said that up to 90% of the monies spent on attack ads in Iowa were for attack ads against Gingrich, the right wing media and the establishment Republican Party were virtually silent about Romney’s Super PAC attacking Gingrich. But the minute Gingrich responded everyone was all over him for doing so. The walls of protection for Romney went up so fast and so high that it left us in a daze.
The establishment Republican Party has made it clear that Romney is their choice and they will not put up with him being questioned, let alone attacked. They are determined to have Mitt “McCain” Romney as the nominee thereby fielding yet another weak moderate candidate to give the Democrats the best chance to win in November. This may be partly due to the fact that the establishment Republicans are moderates themselves and partly due to what I’ve heard is an attitude among them that Obama can’t be beat so why bother trying. (The establishment Republicans are very good at being defeatists.)
But what they don’t understand is that the conservatives voting for GOP candidates aren’t the same as they were even as recently as 2008. They’re tired of moderates and the same old types of candidates. They are looking for an alternative and while it may seem that Gingrich was out of the picture after Romney’s Super PAC attacked him in Iowa, Newt’s performance at last night’s debate mopped the floor with his competition.
Newt Gingrich may have made a mistake in his angry response to Romney’s Super PAC’s attack ads against him, but clearly got back on his game at last night’s debate and bowled over his competitors, especially Romney, very powerfully as only Gingrich can do. This won him great admiration from the audience who, at one point, gave him a standing ovation in the middle of the debate. Republican strategist and pollster Frank Luntz said that in his 16 years experience with debates that that was unheard of. The standing ovation carried on so long that it went into the network’s commercial break.
That is the Newt that advanced so dramatically in the polls last fall and may just make a comeback, especially if he can score more debate victories that are just as strong. Americans like winners and when he debates, Newt wins like no one else.
American voters are forgiving people. They understand that people make mistakes and they have empathy for unfair and unreasonable attacks like Newt has been subjected to. If Newt can stay away from going back to the same types of attacks against Romney and have more strong debate performances, then he has a very good chance at reconsideration by the voters.
There is still a long way to go and many, many primaries to win or lose before the nomination at the GOP convention this summer. The delegates are being awarded differently this year, too, which could drag the decision process all the way to the convention floor. Contrary to what many commentators, pundits, and those in the media may want you to believe, the fight for the nomination may be far from over.