I’ve had my fair share of problems with half of Newt. Good Newt is brilliant, knows the issues better than anyone and has a mind that smart people would kill for. Bad Newt, tends to say things that make you want to pull your hair out; ‘he said what? He did what’?
Recently, based on a question asked of me, I’ve begun asking the same question of others; “of the current Republican candidates, assuming a major crisis, who would you rather have in the White House; Romney, Cain, Perry or Newt?” Newt wins, often begrudgingly; the winner in yet another non-scientific poll by your humble servant.
Intellectual chops, experience, a great mind and decades spent grappling with issues are important to serious people on both sides of the political spectrum and very much so for the political middle of both parties. There is a comparison forming. Disregarding, for the moment, anyone not polling in the teens the contest is Romney, Cain and Newt. Romney is looked upon warily, Cain is a welcome refreshment to the process but will likely burn out; Newt is verbalizing ideas that more and more people find appealing, thoughtful and in many instances creative. He has been able to find a way to express those ideas relatively simply which is a key to why he’s climbing. It also appears that Newt is winning supporters away from both Romney and Cain.
The latest general polling is in the news and puts Newt and Romney within the margin of error. Behind the numbers, however, is a 61% favorable rating for Newt among Republicans, well ahead of second place Romney at 55%. Also noteworthy is that three months ago Newt was at 7%, now at 22%, just slow and steady. Newt is now fully qualified for the Left’s attack machine which has already geared up.
Newt is refusing to take any guff from the likes of Scott Pelley or his comrades in the MSM, energizing Republicans with the push back. So far he’s been able to strike back, absent the appearance of Bad Newt. Questions based on a faulty premise or facts in error find Newt striking back with logic, facts and just the right amount of ‘attitude overwhelming the questioner, especially the ideologic questioner.
In the coliseum of debate combat, more often than not, Newt’s been the ‘adult in the room’ reminding the others that they’re there to defeat Obama, not each other. Newt has demonstrated the ability to take nearly any question and frame the answer in the context of what the Obama Administration is doing. Newt, the adult in the room! Who would have thought it? Short of Romney landing a punch over individual mandates there have been few if any, direct attacks on Newt from the Republican field, perhaps because he was not considered a serious challenger; perhaps because there is a general assumption that the return fire could be devastating or someone is just teeing up one more opportunity for Newt to be the ‘adult’.
Newt has a checkered marital background, his recorded quotes from days gone by will, no doubt, be reprised in any variety of ads should he continue his rise. But there is also a sense of confidence that he is equipped to turn it around if not humanize himself around his prior flaws. If ideas, experience and knowledge are what America decides to look to, Newt cannot be disregarded in the primaries or in a general election. Okay, he’s not pretty like Romney, Perry, Bachman and Huntsman but as I’ve told my daughters; ‘pretty is as pretty does!’
Is Newt the Conservative, Conservatives are looking for? Could be!
The question, however, remains; can Good Newt keep Bad Newt in the closet? Will a stupid or ill-informed question serve as the red cape for Bad Newt? Can he keep Callista in the background? Can he keep his cool when Callista is attacked, as she will be? Callista could be an Achilles heel to Newt; when she is attacked Newt will see red and Bad Newt will want to come out and play. The rap on Newt has always been discipline, he shows signs of getting some; the question is how much?
Can he continue to trot out ‘Good Newt’? Can he continue to be viewed as the ‘adult in the room’? Can he continue to effectively challenge the premise of ideologically motivated public questioning?
Big questions for a big brain; but hang on there folks, it’s also a big question for a big ego.