Sunday, December 18, 2011

The Romney Stalking Horse Front Runner

It now seems as if there’s a good chance Newt Gingrichz will be the latest in the group of anti-Romneys to flame out. It’s always instructive to follow Barack Obama’sz daily tracking poll but the numbers Gallup now has for Gingrich compared to Mitt Romneyz and others suggest a campaign on the descent. He is now only four points ahead of Romney among GOPers. He’ll need that massive infusion of millions of dollars recently donated by a Las Vegas casino owner ASAP.

And in Iowa?

A new survey by New Jersey-based Rasmussen pollster shows the former House speaker sinking below Mitt Romney in the firm’s latest survey of likely Republican caucus-goers in Iowa.

Mr. Gingrich is now at 20 percent, down from 32 percent a month ago, reports pollster Scott Rasmussenz. Mr. Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts, is at 23 percent, and Rep. Ron Paulz (R) of Texas is at 18 percent. With a four-point margin of error, the poll points to a bunch-up that could spell potential victory for any of those three candidates.

Meanwhile, an emerging narrative in the new and old media — because it is true — is a clear, emerging trend: Gingrich is not well liked or favored by some of the top conservative media types or media institutions although he is (for now) a favorite of Tea Party members and members of the GOP’s Talk Radio Political Culture:

If former House Speaker Newt Gingrich is to maintain his place at or near the top of Republican presidential polls, it will be no thanks to the assistance of America’s conservative political commentators.

Columnists and bloggers of the right have been torching Gingrich with unusual abandon in recent days — charging that the long-tenured politician can’t be trusted to adhere to conservative ideals or to stay on message if he is unleashed in a prolonged general election campaign. That could cost Republicans victory, the writers fret, against a president viewed as eminently beatable.

It remains to be seen, in an era when tea party activists with a penchant for bucking authority hold considerable sway in the Republican Party, whether conservative thought leaders like George Willz, Peggy Noonanz and Charles Krauthammerz have the clout to dampen GOP voters’ current flirtation with Gingrich.

Although Gingrich would like to compare himself to Ronald Reagan — deemed at one time by some mainstream Republicans to be unelectable — the former Georgia congressman appears to have the opposite problem faced by the “Great Communicator.”

Even as he sought the 1980 GOP nomination that would open the door to two terms in the White House, some party mainstays deemed Reagan too conservative. As he tries to win over the party in which Reagan is still the paragon, Gingrich, in contrast, faces repeated questions about whether he is conservative enough. The barbs come despite the fact that the former congressman had a 90% voting record with the American Conservative Union.

“The difference today is that the Republican establishment is much more conservative,” said David Crockettz, a Republican and professor of political science at Trinity University in Texas. “These are people who think Gingrich is not dependable, or not dependably conservative. That is much different than the criticism Reagan faced.”

But Gingrich’s GOP opponents and conservatives who don’t want him on the ticket have their work cut out for them. He may be deflating but perhaps not fast enough to ensure the nomination of someone else. And Gingrich has some substantial leads:

‘The latest batch of public opinion surveys gives Newt Gingrich a lead over Mitt Romney by margins ranging from 6 to 17 points.

Gingrich is also running well in some of the early-voting states like Iowa, South Carolina and Florida that play a major role in the presidential nominating process.

Romney and some of the other Republican presidential contenders have stepped up their attacks on Gingrich in hopes of slowing his momentum.

Will it be enough? But Gingrich may be somewhat wounded but he is still “dangerous.”

It was not good news for Gingrich that the governor of a state he hopes to do well in – Nikki Haleyz of South Carolina, third in the nominating contest behind Iowa and New Hampshire – just endorsed Mitt Romney.

But there’s a certain 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 “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 Clintonz 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.”

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