Last night's Republican debate in Iowa left Newt Gingrich looking stronger than ever, while his most serious rivals, Mitt Romney and Rick Perry, both shot themselves in the foot.
Romney has remained frozen in the polls, with any possible contender leapfrogging over him. A number of pundits have speculated the reason for Republican rejection of Romney being doubts about his conservative credentials. The actual reason is a lot simpler. Romney is arrogant and unlikeable. That came across loud and clear when Texas governor Rick Perry falsely accused Romney of having written that he wanted a national health care plan like the one he instituted in Massachusetts, which, for some Republicans, bears too strong a resemblance to Obamacare. Rather than just using the occasion to show that Perry was wrong, Romney decided to rub it it by offering to make a $10,000 bet on it. Now the bet and Romney's wealth and arrogance are getting more attention than his health care proposals.
But Perry was not able to diminish the perception of having a lack of command of basic facts, something that has haunted him from the beginning of the campaign.
Ron Paul was...Ron Paul; intelligent and sincere, but though his poll numbers place him around third, his isolationist and libertarian extremism will render him unable to win his party's nomination.
After the collapse of Herman Cain's campaign, the unlikely front runner and virtual certainty for the nomination remains former Speaker of the House Gingrich.
He proved himself even more presidential last night by standing by his words and being able to take his opponents' attacks and turn them around to show his strength.
Romney tried to attack Gingrich over comments where during a recent interview, the front-runner declared the Palestinians to be an "invented people." Rather than backtracking, Gingrich stood by his comments and added, “Somebody ought to have the courage to tell the truth. These people are terrorists." After criticizing President Obama's handling of middle east foreign policy, he continued, "It’s fundamentally time for somebody to have the guts to stand up and say, ‘Enough lying about the Middle East.’” Gingrich's remarks on that earned him the loudest, most sustained cheers that any candidate received last night.
When Romney accused him of being a "career politician," Gingrich's pointed comeback highlighted Romney's shortcomings when he replied, "Let's be candid, the only reason you didn't become a career politician is because you lost to Teddy Kennedy in '94."
There is plenty of time for anything to happen in the Republican primaries, but given the current slate of candidates and the abilities they've shown, barring a meltdown, Gingrich looks to be a lock for the nomination.
Were he to win the general election, the US would take a very different direction than under Barack Obama. Gingrich has said that he would make John Bolton, the former US Ambassador to the United Nations, whose hawkish conservatism makes him a lightning rod to the far left, as his Secretary of State.
With a declining economy and rising unemployment in America, and the perception that the current president is inept, weak, arrogant, and unable to manage the nation, President Newt Gingrich, a prospect that would have been unimaginable when he had reached the pinnacle of his career in Congress, may be a reality in 2013.