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Posted at 12:39 PM ET, 01/23/2012

What Washington overlooks about Newt

Newt has an advantage that is overlooked in Washington. He isn't old-hat in the GOP primary universe outside of Washington. If you are a 35 year-old suburban professional, you probably remember very little about his stormy tenure as Speaker.

I spoke with a smart friend of mine in Florida, who is a prominent lawyer and a Republican, although he voted for President Obama in 2008.  He says that electability is his number one issue, as he and his peer group are committed to vote to remove Obama from office.  However, he has a different conclusion from what all of us political experts think we know.  He and his friends believe that Newt is at least as electable as Romney.  Again, Newt’s political baggage, which is so well-chronicled in political circles, is less well-known outside of Washington than it is here.  A large portion of voters in Florida and elsewhere have learned most of what they know about Newt Gingrich in the last 90, or maybe even just the last 9, days.  The last 15 years and beyond contribute little to what an undecided voter is now considering. 

I’m resisting the urge to give Mitt Romney free advice. I said  my piece about his taxes last week. Plus, I’ve been there.  As Carter suggested, it’s now time for Romney and his campaign leadership to stare into the abyss.  Their decision is essentially to determine if they can win by gutting it out and offering more of the same, or if they are going to do something different.  This isn’t advice, but an observation. 

As I’ve said before, people listen to Newt Gingrich because they think they might learn something when he speaks.  People listen to Mitt Romney because they know he has been the frontrunner.  More and more, I hear that Romney is boring.  I’ve never thought he was boring, but he is predictable and somewhat rehearsed.  However, I hear the B-word more and more.  Every day matters, but the next 48 hours are critical for both Gingrich and Romney.  Romney must treat a self-inflicted wound when he releases his taxes tomorrow and at the same time, stop Gingrich’s momentum.  Gingrich must avoid the headline that every newspaper in America wants to write, “Gingrich Says Blank: Campaign Crashes.” 

By  |  12:39 PM ET, 01/23/2012

 
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