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Newt's Negatives

With Newt Gingrich suddenly making a plausible case that he can win the GOP nomination, Democrats are gleefully surveying the lines of attack they can use against him
-- his congressional career, his temperament, and his personal history.

Take a look at his sky-high negatives.  If I were a Democrat, I would be praying -- p-r-a-y-i-n-g -- that enough Republicans would decide that Mitt Romney is too unexciting and ideologically impure, thereby replacing him with a guy with a history as a lobbyist, subject of an ethics investigation, turbulent personal life (whom people already dislike) and a history of never winning any election outside his own deep red district, where he was reelected twice, in 1990 and 1992, by fewer than a thousand votes).

Republicans who think that Gingrich can somehow change America's mind as he's changed some Republicans' are dreaming.  He'll be targeted from day one by an unimaginable assault of negative ads, unlike anything he's ever seen.  Trying to explain the "truth" about ethics charges or one's work as Freddie Mac's "historian" is a long and complicated process -- most people, who have lives of their own, aren't going to expend the energy to sort through every detail.  They'll just know that the one thing they do ilke about Obama is his apparently strong personal life and their sense that he's trying hard (even if they don't like the results).  And compared to Gingrich, who has been a creature of Washington for almost 30 years, President Obama IS an outsider.  

It's worth remembering that most voters aren't political junkies, and they don't see political debates in stark, manichean terms.  They aren't interested in rhetoric about "Alinkyites" and are largely turned off by characterizations like "food stamp president."  They are tired of division and tired of being lectured by those who presume they know best (whether they are on the left or the right).

But no doubt Newt Gingrich -- with weak managerial skills and a campaign so disorganized that he can't even get on the ballot in Virginia -- can win enough of them over to beat the billion dollar Obama campaign machine.  All it takes is strong debating skills and an oddly co-dependent relationship with the press.

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