NEWT’S MOMENT

November 8th, 2011

NEWT’S MOMENT

Fair warning: my record as a political prognosticator is checkered, to say the least.

I established my credentials in 1980 by declaring on live television in the midst of the lopsided Presidential race that…”The American people are not going to elect a failed, B-movie actor to the highest office in the land.”

Since then, I’ve been wrong more often than right.

That said, I have a sense now that the current, confused state of the Republican race is opening an opportunity for Newt Gingrich to move up in the polls. By contrast with the others, he seems confident and experienced in the debates, with his sense of humor intact. I still expect Mitt Romney to bore the Republican electorate into the conclusion that he is their best prospect to defeat President Obama in the general election. He’ll get the nomination eventually, but Newt has a moment here, an opportunity to move up from the second tier of candidates, a chance to be viewed as adult among children.

Why?

Because the others are all self-destructing, each in their own distinctive fashion. Can you still spell Tim Pawlenty? Do you still take Michelle Bachman seriously? Can Rick Perry ever be seen as more than a Texas cartoon, all hat and swagger, no cattle? Will Ron Paul ever be a double-digit candidate? Can Jon Huntsman ever gain traction? Why is Rick Santorum still in the race? What is Herman Cain thinking? I think you know the answers.

So that opens the avenue for Newt to move ahead. The Hermanator’s problems are his opportunity. To be sure, Gingrich has his own well-documented capacity for self-destruction. He talks faster than he thinks and often gets in trouble. He certainly has had his own, highly publicized marital history. And he is probably too old to get the votes of many younger voters.

But he has been around the block more than once and it shows in his confident responses in the debates. He won’t likely be the nominee by next spring, much less President, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Republican race become a Romney-Gingrich contest, with Mitt eventually getting the nod.

Remember, you read it here, from the same sage that forecast the 1980 race so accurately.

TERENCE SMITH is a journalist. His website is Terencefsmith.com


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