In the end, can Newt actually win this? Yeah, maybe so, in this bizarro Republican contest.
It’s his turn at the top, but that has been a slippery place to be in the past six months. Michelle Bachmann rose and fell. Rick Perry had a second or two in the lead before he plummeted. Herman Cain was at the forefront for a few days.
Then, Mitt Romney was, once again, deemed inevitable. Now, maybe not, maybe not at all, as the Republican Party picks its nominee to take on President Obama.
Newt Gingrich has been written off more times than a business lunch, but he pops up again, cocky, combative and capable of getting tons of free media. His big win in the South Carolina primary was based on touting conservative views, bashing the media and dominating the debates.
While Romney has the money, the organization and the pure personal life, he is awkward on stage, has handled the questions about his income and taxes horribly — and he is a Mormon. To a lot of the Christian conservatives who dominate much of the GOP selection process, that is the gravest sin.
Rick Santorum (be careful when you Google him) won, or at least tied Romney, at the Iowa caucus, although the media proclaimed Romney the winner for two weeks while votes were still being counted and collected.
Mitt won the New Hampshire primary, as was expected, and for a time he was 2-0 and leading in South Carolina. But that is so last Wednesday.
Santorum was a distant third in South Carolina, but he’s hoping Gingrich self-destructs and he is the most viable conservative standing.
Ron Paul, the aged, cranky Texas libertarian, has a small but dedicated following. He has said he doesn’t expect to be the nominee, then changed his tune and said, sure, I can win. But probably not.
If Newt can somehow get Santorum to join him, to earn those conservative followers, perhaps he does somehow earn the GOP nomination. My head still says Mitt is still the man most likely, but I think the GOP heart and gut says Newt is their true love, despite his past failings.
If this battle continues long enough, perhaps South Dakota’s primary on June 5 will become a factor. Maybe the circus will come to town once again, as it did for the Democrats in 2008.
And maybe, just maybe, for the first time since 1952, the Republican convention will mean something other than a coronation. Perhaps another candidate will emerge and the fabled “brokered convention” will return from the dim days of long-past history. Did someone mention Jeb Bush?