After a relaxing holiday weekend — family, turkey, football, some projects around the house — I return to … Newt Gingrich.
Over the weekend he won the endorsement of the Manchester Union Leader, the leading newspaper in New Hampshire and a bellwether of sorts for conservative voters. Money’s pouring in, and he’s cementing his position as the anti-Mitt, rising in polls in the three early states of Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina.
“Romney’s a guy who wants to be liked,” Union Leader editorial page editor Drew Cline said on CNN. “He’s a politician who wants to be liked. Gingrich is a politician who wants to be respected, who wants to actually accomplish – he has an agenda that he wants to set in place.”
Yes, Newt has a lot of baggage. But unlike Rick Perry, Michele Bachmann and Herman Cain, Newt’s baggage is familiar to most voters. It has already been priced into the market, so to speak. Rehashing his history, troubling as much of it is, won’t damage him much.
However, that’s not to say that Newt’s history isn’t important. It sits there as a template of his previous behavior, and the moment he loses discipline and does something stupid, that record quickly becomes relevant again. He has no margin of error, and no demonstrated ability to go error-free.
So here’s the question likely to define the rest of the GOP presidential campaign:
– Jay Bookman