A funny thing is happening in the Republican race for president: Newt Gingrich, with all his political and personal warts, is starting to look good again to conservative voters. I'm not sure it says more about the former House Speaker's credentials and overall appeal as much as it's a vote of no-confidence for the rest of the lame GOP pack. When Newt becomes your Great White Hope, you know your party's in trouble.
At the outset of the campaign Gingrich had promise, and then he quickly imploded. Appearing in May on NBC's Meet the Press Gingrich was asked about Rep. Paul Ryan's plan to scrap Medicare. "I don't think right-wing social engineering is any more desirable than left-wing social engineering," Gingrich said. "I don't think imposing radical change from the right or the left is a very good way for a free society to operate." Though I think he was absolutely correct and rational in his thinking, he was widely criticized and attacked by Ryan, Rush Limbaugh and many others in the party. Two days later he back-peddled and disingenuously tried to spin his way out of it on On the Record with Greta Van Susteren.
Then came the Tiffany debt scandal and the staff defections. It appeared as though Gingrich's campaign was as dead as a doornail. And then the rest of the GOP pack started talking. And skeletons started falling out of closets. National polls now have Gingrich running third behind Herman Cain and Mitt Romney. But Cain, the faux frontrunner who never really had a believable shot at the nomination, is currently embroiled in a growing sex scandal which is sure to put the nail in his political coffin. Romney, the-frontrunner-who-no-one-really-wants, has several major obstacles to overcome: he's a Mormon, he's not liked and he's flip-flopped so much that Birkenstock should name a sandal after him. And Rick Perry, who was once the GOP's Boy Wonder, has been dying a painfully slow death. He's so in over his head he can't even remember all the government departments he hates and would immediately shut down. Wednesday night's colossal debate gaffe will probably be his campaign-ending moment. It's certainly gonna be something that poli-sci students study for years to come.
While Newt's opponents are floundering, the momentum is with him. He's a master-debater and his resilience seems to be paying off. And timing is everything. So it's not such a stretch that he could end up with the nomination, especially if something negative about Romney should surface, or if he should stumble on policy. Remember, it's usually not the early frontrunners who end up with the nomination. While the Republican Party spent much of this year seducing anyone who isn't Romney to run-- Chris Christie and Mitch Daniels among them--the answer might've been under their trunks all along. Everyone loves an underdog.