Good gets better, bad gets worse. Newt Gingrich’s South Carolina victory will be over-analyzed and embellished to suggest it has more meaning than it does. By Tuesday he will look ten feet tall. Mitt Romney’s second place finish will mistakenly be reported as a near-crippling blow to a flawed, anemic candidate.
Each candidate should not do two things. First, Newt should not over-interpret the results and think of himself as destined for Mount Rushmore. Next, he should not pose, exude arrogance or belittle next week’s questions or questioners. Newt’s colleagues in Congress used to say that Newt needs to be under pressure or in some trouble. Otherwise, his ego and his exaggerated sense of self make him forget what is expected of him and he could become blind to how others view him. He should start every morning staring in a mirror and reciting, “pride goeth before a fall.”
Romney should not think that the matter of his failure to release his tax returns will just go away. It has infected his campaign and it could become cancerous. Second, he should not think he can convince voters that Newt is not an authentic conservative. No one will buy that line of attack from Romney. He needs to be realistic about his weaknesses and Newt’s strengths.
Newt’s biggest advantage is his presentation skills. People listen to Newt because they think they might learn something when he talks. Voters listen to Romney because they think he might give a fine speech and because they think he might win. Romney needs to improve his pitch.
On to Florida.