By Jonathan Bradley in Sydney, Australia

7 December 2011

A Newt Gingrich image macro

If you're wondering why I haven't talked much about Newt Gingrich here on this blog, it's because I've been highly skeptical of his candidacy to date. My consistent stance throughout the year has been that though I'm not predicting Mitt Romney will gain the GOP nomination, he's always looked most likely to get it, and few of the other candidates have shown themselves serious challengers to his frontrunner status.

But Gingrich, the House Speaker during the Republican reign of the 1990s, is now leading in one Iowa poll, while another shows he's acceptable to a large portion of the Republican Party. The latter is potentially more significant; as Herman Cain's departure from the race last week shows, the field is still volatile and support is liable to shift rapidly from one candidate to another. For a candidate, being acceptable to your party is as important as being appealing to it.

So I'm taking Gingrich more seriously than most of the Republican field. Still, I struggle to see him doing well. Gingrich is a Southerner, but tempermentally, he's of the Fairfax, Virginia suburbs where he makes his home. He loves Washington, and no matter how much he may try to persuade voters otherwise, he's the consummate insider. The problem is: other insiders don't like him. He warmed Republican hearts with his Contract With America and his party's ensuing victory in the 1994 midterms, but, after that, he blundered by forcing an unpopular government shutdown and impeaching President Bill Clinton. As a candidate he's unstable and unfocused, and his purported intellect more often involves impressive-sounding schemes rather than rigorous, workable proposals.

But the Internet has plenty of discussion of Gingrich's flaws. Instead of me laying them out in further detail, I recommend checking out Tom Switzer's latest column in American Review, which makes the case for why Gingrich might succeed. Gingrich, Tom says, "is the last best hope for conservatives."

It's a smart, well-argued piece as to why Gingrich doubters like me are wrong — and we might be! Check it out. 

Tags: American Review, Election 2012, Newt Gingrich, Republican Party, Republican Primary 2012, Tom Switzer

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