An inevitable play by the Gingrich campaign, hoping to keep Monday's debate triumph top-of-mind for South Carolina voters. Behold, "the moment:"
The Gingrich campaign blasted out a quote from Frank Luntz yesterday, in which the pollster said he couldn't recall a standing ovation during a primary debate like the one Newt received on this week. (I remember another one, actually). Reminding the Republican electorate how good Newt can be at debating is a no-brainer for his campaign, but don't they already have the "I want the guy who can really take it to Obama in debates" vote locked up? The problem with this mentality is that head-to-head confrontations in debate formats represents, oh, less than one percent of the totality of a general election. Remember, the GOP nominee will only have three limited shots at The One in those settings. I know Newt thinks he can goad Obama into seven Lincoln-Douglas style debates, but it'll never, ever happen. Obama won't agree to it for a number of reasons, one of which we discussed yesterday. What Newt needs to do is convince Republican voters that he's viable in a general -- a very tall task. Why? Over to you, Bill Kristol:
So, there are three candidates at +4 percent, +2.5 percent, and -4 percent, all well within competitive bounds of one another. Newt Gingrich? He's at 28 percent favorable to 58 percent unfavorable in one poll, 27 percent to 56 percent in the other—averaging -29.5 percent. Yes, -29.5 percent. Newt Gingrich should never be underestimated. Perhaps he could even recover from a -29.5 percent unfavorability rating. But it’s quite a stretch for Gingrich to claim that he has an obviously better chance to win than Rick Santorum, either against Mitt Romney or Barack Obama.
Allahpundit underscores a few more unavoidable factors:
Want a campaign where multiple news cycles are consumed with why the nominee thinks Obama has a “Kenyan anti-colonial” mindset even as we’re getting totally out-organized on the ground? Newt’s the guy most likely to make that happen.
Therein lie Gingrich's biggest problems. He's got brutal favorability numbers, he's prone to blurt things out on impluse and latch onto controversial ideas, and his campaign has struggled mightily on the X's and O's organizational front. Then, of course, there's the immediate issue: Newt not only trails Romney in state and national polls, he's also laboring against several other Not Romneys. Gingrich has a quick fix for that obstacle in mind, but it hasn't been received too well.
Guy Benson is Townhall.com's Political Editor. Follow him on Twitter @guypbenson. He is co-authors with Mary Katharine Ham for their new book End of Discussion: How the Left's Outrage Industry Shuts Down Debate, Manipulates Voters, and Makes America Less Free (and Fun).
Author Photo credit: Jensen Sutta Photography