Jonathan Martin, who’s very well sourced among Republican activists and officials, says it’s mainly because conservatives think Newt would make a formidable debate opponent for Obama, one who can go toe to toe with the President when it comes to big ideas and soaring rhetoric:
It’s nearly impossible to overstate how much Newt Gingrich’s resurgence can be traced to how strongly Republicans think he’d fare in mano-a-mano debates against President Obama. The central role of debates in the GOP primary, Gingrich’s boffo performance in the forums and the dreamy prospect of their own gifted speaker schooling the silver-tongued incumbent has Republican activists more focused on the joint appearances next fall than at any time in recent presidential history.
And now Gingrich is turning to history to make the case that one of the only ways Obama may win is if Republicans nominate an “inarticulate” candidate who can’t go toe-to-toe with the president.
It’s indisputably true that Gingrich has already proven himself capable of landing devastating rhetorical blows on President Obama. Newt has blasted Obama as “the most successful food stamp president in modern American history.” Newt has hammered Obama and Dems for oppressing Americans with a “secular socialist machine.” And Newt has deftly deconstructed Obama’s worldview as “Kenyan” and “anti-colonial.” This sort of rhetoric would certainly be a huge boon in a general election context. Any Republicans who think this sort of thing would help the president should go stuff it. Republicans need a nominee who will not flinch from exposing the real Obama for who he really is.
What’s more, it’s also indisputable that Gingrich has proven one of the most profound thinkers the modern GOP has boasted in decades. He has warned darkly that our children may grow up in a “secular athiest country” that’s “dominated by radical Islamists.” And he has eloquently prophesied that the left will successfully infiltrate ”nearly every cultural commanding height of our civilization.”
Plus, Newt has already proven that he’s capable of displaying independence from the GOP where warranted. Remember when he criticized Paul Ryan’s Medicare plan as “right wing social engineering,” giving Dems a handy talking point to bludgeon the plan for weeks? Shows you just how shrewd a political tactician Newt can be.
Okay, okay, apologies for being so heavy handed with the sarcasm. But some conservatives, such as Jennifer Rubin and Andy Ferguson, have also warned that Newt’s credentials as an intellectual heavyweight are entirely unearned, and that GOPers nominate a megalomaniac like Newt at their peril.
Newt, however, is undaunted. Indeed, as he told us himself the other day: “I have more substance than any candidate in modern history.” If Jonathan Martin’s reporting is accurate, there are a lot of Republican voters out there who are prepared to believe him.