Photo: Courtesy of Meet The Press
Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich’s presidential campaign was left for dead early this summer after most of his staff quit amid lackluster fundraising numbers and news that the candidate had run up hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt at Tiffany. But now NewtMentum is all the rage.With the Republicans still unwilling to fall in line behind former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney until all possible alternatives are explored — and Herman Cain’s support is fading — they are giving Gingrich a second look.
Gingrich earned the loudest cheers and applause at Friday’s Iowa GOP Ronald Reagan dinner, outshining Rep. Michele Bachmann, Texas Gov. Rick Perry, Rep. Ron Paul, and former Sen. Rick Santorum. Then on Saturday, Gingrich upstaged Herman Cain in a Lincoln-Douglas style debate, deftly explaining entitlement programs to the audience, while Cain passed on questions he did not know the answer to.
Gingrich is still struggling to rebuild his campaign: his October fundraising topped $1 million — more than his entire third quarter haul. But there are several reasons why Republicans will flock to him over the other candidates if Cain’s decline continues.
- His debate performances have been stellar. Even marginalized to the edge of the stage, he has made himself a force to be reckoned with — hammering President Barack Obama and the media with appealing talking points.
- His conservative credentials are mostly unimpeachable — especially when compared to Romney. He doesn’t have a record of flip-flopping, a charge that Bachmann has started levelling at Cain.
But NewtMentum isn’t likely to translate into primary success for the candidate, who is still low on cash, and has barely visited the early states. Just five per cent of Republican voters believe Gingrich has the best chance of defeating Obama, compared to 30 per cent for Romney. He’ll be the latest in a long line of anti-Romney candidates who will eventually run out of steam — or be run over by Romney’s money and momentum.
On Wednesday, the Republican presidential candidates will hold yet another debate on the economy — a forum in which Cain has flailed in the past. If Gingrich delivers yet another strong debate performance, NewtMentum will replace ‘Black Walnut’ as the latest flavour of the week.
NOW WATCH: Briefing videos
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.