Few could have predicted former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich’s comeback, especially when his campaign was deemed to be floundering mere weeks ago. His surge in the polls must come as a shock to a Romney campaign that has maintained a lead as potential challengers have continued to implode under the nomination’s spotlight.
Many pundits are now saying that Romney’s time as the frontrunner has come to an end and he will not be anointed as the challenger to President Barack Obama. This is simply not true. Romney’s strategy of laying low and building an impressive campaign apparatus will serve him well as he secures the Republican nomination. Gingrich’s campaign is simply too weak to ride this temporary bump in the polls to a victory over Romney.
The real strength of Romney is his appeal to the Republican establishment and the independent voter. While enthusiasm for Romney may be low, he has a wider appeal that Gingrich simply cannot match. Much commentary has been written about the evangelical vote within the Republican Party but its influence has been overstated — a factor that the Romney campaign is taking into consideration.
Romney has learned from the mistakes of his 2008 campaign and is paving the way to a much smoother primary season. Instead of courting the supposedly important evangelical vote in Iowa, Romney is looking ahead to New Hampshire. This state much better represents the appeal that his campaign has to the mainstream Republican Party and has rightly gained much more attention from the Romney campaign.
Much of Gingrich’s rise can be attributed to the decline of Texas Governor Rick Perry and pizza tycoon Herman Cain. As with other “challengers” to Romney’s frontrunner status, Gingrich will come to find that the dissatisfaction with Romney from the far right will not be enough to derail Romney’s nomination.
Romney has, and will continue have, an appeal to the Republican establishment that cannot be matched by Gingrich. Romney has cultivated a much more controlled image than his 2008 campaign by controlling much of the press coverage about his “flip-flops” on controversial issues. He has also provided solid debate performances that have crippled some of his opponents. Romney is a man of firm family values who does not face the scrutiny into his personal life that has plagued Cain and Gingrich. Enthusiasm may be lacking for such a candidate such as Romney, but he has already positioned himself as the best candidate to run against Obama.
In many ways, Obama and Romney seem very similar to each other. They are both rather uninspiring to their respective parties, both are highly intelligent, and each has a smooth debating style that is primed for the national stage. This presidential aptitude for the national race will cause the primary season to be a tipping point where the Republican establishment will marshal behind Romney and prepare for the arduous battle against Obama.
Gingrich is simply another fading star as the Republican base searches for a candidate to feel passionate about.
In the end, the pragmatists of the Republican base will flock to Romney, as his campaign gears up to run against the well-oiled Obama campaign. While it is much too early to predict Romney chances in the presidential race, his nomination is secured.
Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore