Yes, I still believe Newt Gingrich would have been the best candidate to take on Barack Obama. While my polling was never biased, my heart favored a man of such intellect and experience to be the GOP nominee. Perhaps, in Newt's world, that is still a possibility.
But, in my mind, with so many issues swirling about in both the national arena and internationally, it is time for this great leader to lend his mind, his energy and his experience to the next likely Republican nominee for president -- Mitt Romney.
I know this is a bitter pill to swallow. Romney was cruel in his personal attacks on Gingrich in states such as Florida. Romney's campaign staff is cold, not open to reaching out, and the candidate himself seems made of wax, dressed in blue jeans to appease the masses. But Richard Nixon was no charmer, and he likely saved the nation from a permanent "Great Society" when he defeated Hubert Humphrey in 1968. Being lovable and saving a nation are two completely separate things. And, for the record, my close friends who are very close to Romney say he is the complete opposite of the cold national image that he must fight.
Rick Santorum is a genuinely conservative's conservative. But he is also a neophyte. When he uttered that basically there would be no difference between re-electing President Obama and electing Mitt Romney, he lost me. Gingrich, I must note, a longtime loyal Republican whose credentials exceed even those of Romney, immediately rejected Santorum's comments.
And this is not a matter of math. Yes, it is possible that Gingrich and Santorum could deprive Romney of the necessary number of delegates prior to the convention in Tampa, Fla., but to what end? A huge battle over who is the most conservative candidate in late August with only two months remaining before the November election would destroy the GOP and any hopes it has of defeating President Obama.
This is tough to write because I personally know Newt Gingrich as few have ever known him. But I do not regret this column because I believe that Gingrich could not only mentor and assist Romney, but actually help him in so many public and private ways win the presidency. If Romney and his forces do not realize this, then they are doomed to defeat. I personally think the former governor is far too smart to consider the man who basically saved America in the late 1990s some relic of the past.