It’s a long way to Tipperary and it will be a long way to the GOP nomination. But whatever the outcome, Newt Gingrich has infused the Republican campaign with energy and an excitement not seen since Ronald Reagan ran for president. Talk about energizing the base!
For several elections now, Republicans have had to accept what the establishment forced down their throat. There was John McCain the last time around, who told his staff not to criticize Barack Obama. There was Bob Dole, a war hero, but a horrible campaigner who was such a Washington insider one could wonder whether he could find his way out of town without a driver to take him. There is no question that a Gingrich–Obama debate would be the political equivalent of the Muhammad Ali–Joe Frazier prize fight known as “The Thrilla in Manila.” Both Bushes are decent men, but neither could rally and inspire the way Gingrich can. His criticism of the media resonates with the base.
Obama is weaker than he looks. He has more money, he has the presidency. But Obama has no moral authority. He holds the White House for reasons that have little to do with his far-left ideology. Most Americans remain troubled with the direction of the country; whether it be economics, foreign policy, or morality, Obama offers four more years of the same, or worse. In other times, Gingrich’s personal baggage might have weighed him down too much to leave the station. Republicans are more than hungry to deny the president a second term. They are famished. We’ll soon see if that trumps the entitlement mentality and the increasing numbers of people who are relying on government instead of themselves. Human nature being what it is, the answer to that question might be a coin toss.
Gingrich has huge unfavorable ratings. Will Republican members of Congress now work to undermine him for fear he could drag many of them down and cost them their seats and a chance to take back the Senate while holding their majority in the House? If that happens, Gingrich may find his most formidable opponents among those current and former members of Congress who once worked with him and have expressed disdain for his leadership. This election season, which many thought Mitt Romney would have wrapped up by now, is just beginning.