Is Newt Gingrich the Republican's flavor-of-the-month-in-waiting?
We ask this because it appears that Mr. Gingrich has resurrected his campaign with steady debate performances in which he (mostly) focuses his comments on the Obama administration, instead of his GOP rivals.
For instance, CBS political analyst Brian Montopoli listed Gingrich as one of the winners of Tuesday night’s CNN debate in Las Vegas. The ex-Speaker was professorial, according to Mr. Montopoli, peppering his answers with historical references and presenting himself as an idea guy, floating above the fray.
“It’s probably not going to lead him to the nomination, but it’s turning what had been a catastrophic campaign into a respectable one,” wrote Montopoli.
Montopoli wasn’t alone on this. University of Virginia political science professor Larry Sabato tweeted after the debate that Gingrich had turned in an A- performance. Newly announced non-candidate Sarah Palin told Greta Van Susteren on Fox News that she thought Gingrich did best of all the candidates.
“He seems to be above a lot of the bickering that goes on,” said Ms. Palin.
But reduced media scrutiny is one reason for his rise. As a second-tier candidate, Gingrich has gotten away with gaffes (e.g., suggesting that Barney Frank should go to jail) that would severely damage a top-tier candidate. The latest example comes from the Las Vegas debate:
And I, frankly, would be really worried if somebody assured me that nothing in their faith would affect their judgments, because then I'd wonder, where's your judgment -- how can you have judgment if you have no faith? And how can I trust you with power if you don't pray?
Here he seemed to be suggesting that atheists are unfit for office. Granted, about half of Americans would not vote for an atheist for president, but Gingrich's statement might alienate the other half.