Photo: Courtesy of Meet The Press
For months the Republican presidential field has overturned itself in search of a candidate who can take on former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. With five weeks to the Iowa Caucuses, they appear to have settled on former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich.His campaign was left for dead in June after a mass exodus of his campaign staff amid reports of massive credit lines at Tiffany & Co., but after the successive bubbles of Michele Bachmann, Rick Perry, and Herman Cain, Republicans are returning to the candidate they know.
In a nod to his former nemesis Bill Clinton, Gingrich is billing himself the “Comeback Grandparent” on his return to the top — and he’s beginning to rebuild his campaign organisation to compete against Romney. He opens his second and third campaign offices in South Carolina today, and has had four straight weeks of strong fundraising.
Gingrich also got a bump on Sunday with the endorsement of the New Hampshire Union Leader — the Granite State’s largest newspaper — which not only elevates him to the role of Romney challenger, but as Jonathan Martin points out, it also helps him change the subject amid questions about where he stands on illegal immigration.
But the simple reason why Gingrich appears to be the last Anti-Romney candidate is that with 36 days to when the first Republican votes are cast, there just isn’t enough time for another candidate to come back to 30 per cent in the polls. The concerns surrounding Bachmann, Cain, and Perry haven’t gone away — and they haven’t had the months-long cooling off period that allowed Gingrich to earn a second look.
Gingrich still has a ways to go to the caucuses — and he is his own worst enemy. His support for a “red card” system to grant illegal immigrants with strong roots legal status in the U.S. remains a sticking point with Iowa Republicans. He’s trying to rectify that by returning to Iowa this week to mitigate the damage, where he is also beefing up his staff.
But if he falters, there isn’t another candidate waiting in the wings in Iowa that has the potential to go all the way.
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