21 Jan 2012

“We Cannot Spare This Man. He Fights.”

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Newt Gingrich has come to remind Bryan Preston of Abraham Lincoln’s response to demands that he dismiss Ulysses Grant because he was notorious for having a drinking problem.

Like a Civil War general once accused of letting his personal problems get in the way of doing his duty, we may not be able to spare Newt Gingrich. He isn’t perfect, far from it. But he fights.

That general later became president despite the accusations against him. For what it’s worth.

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Politico (cynically) observes Newt Gingrich’s unique ability to fire up a Republican audience.

The former Massachusetts governor’s awkwardness was underscored at every turn by Gingrich’s fluent, flamboyant performance. Already surging in South Carolina polls, the former speaker won his second standing ovation from a debate crowd in a week and put himself in a position to win Saturday’s primary with another impressive showing.

By twice castigating one of the right’s perennial boogeymen — the press — Gingrich made a gut-level connection with conservatives who think they get a raw deal from the news media.

His blistering response to CNN’s John King about the accusations lodged by Marianne Gingrich might even offer a short-term lift.

“Watch it help Newt,” predicted former South Carolina GOP Chair Katon Dawson, speaking of the interview Gingrich’s former wife gave to ABC, likening Marianne Gingrich’s claims to the unproven 2010 accusations that South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley conducted an extramarital affair. “It looked like they were picking on her.”…

But the former speaker’s rejuvenation isn’t only a matter of being viewed by conservatives as the latest victim of the press.

Just as he did when he first returned from the political grave last year, Gingrich is finding his voice by appealing to the mad-as-hell wing of the GOP that has been searching for a candidate to match and articulate its anger.

“He does capture where the party is rhetorically,” said Republican strategist Jon Lerner, who is unaligned in the race. “But I don’t know if Saturday’s vote is tantamount to long-term success.”

“Newt’s Rocky Balboa — he doesn’t mind fighting,” added former Rep. Bob Livingston, a Gingrich adviser, after the debate.

Romney is probably never going to be likened to a brawler and, in the long run, that may serve him well. If he gets the nomination, he may be the one most able to make the general election a referendum on President Obama.

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