A critical week for Newt Gingrich

This is a big week for former House speaker Newt Gingrich and the GOP presidential nomination campaign. All the weekend polls confirm a Gingrich surge

The focal point will be Gingrich, and the second-tier stories will include whether another candidate can get a grip on the Cinderella slipper.

The insider GOP buzz is about former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum and the unpredictable potential of Congressman Ron Paul. Supporters of former governor Mitt Romney will be looking for signs that he is stabilizing and that his support has a floor. 

Gingrich will have a bright red bull’s-eye on his back. So far, his rise has been blurred by the distraction of the Herman Cain matter and other candidate foibles. But this week, the media will be free of distractions, and they will try put him to the test; his opponents will all rehash his negatives, and undoubtedly he will give us all something new to talk about.

It will be interesting to see if Gingrich can actually ask for votes rather than explain how foolish it is to be for anyone else. Last week Gingrich declared he would be the nominee, and his campaign slogan is essentially: If you are not an idiot, you are for me. Let's see how that works or if he can bring himself to road-test a more graceful appeal.

Santorum is just about the only candidate left who hasn’t had a ride up the flavor-of-the-week elevator. Santorum isn’t a good bad guy. He is earnest, likable, a hard worker and has a great family. So far, he has not been able to break through as a credible nominee. But it is his turn to get a look.

Paul’s strength in the new Iowa poll confounds Romney the most. Romney and his team were on the brink of committing resources there a couple of weeks ago when his candidacy was looking strong. But with Paul’s support base committed but his percentage uncertain, a Gingrich collapse unlikely and Santorum about to get a look by voters, look for Romney to quietly downplay his hopes and diminish his activity in Iowa.

Away from the 2012 presidential campaigns, Republicans are still floundering over the payroll tax cut. We should find a way to support this and other tax cuts, and quickly! Remember, a bumper sticker beats an essay, and we are getting clobbered with our essay about how this tax cut, which adds to workers take-home pay every week, isn't a good tax cut. Republicans are the party of tax cuts. As Karl Rove would say, “Stick to principle.” The longer this debate continues, the worse it is for us.

 

Ed Rogers is a contributor to the PostPartisan blog, a political consultant and a veteran of the White House and several national campaigns. He is the chairman of the lobbying and communications firm BGR Group, which he founded with former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour in 1991.

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