Newt Gingrich's huge win in South Carolina has helped him erase the massive lead enjoyed by longtime front-runner Mitt Romney, shelving (for now) any talk of Romney as the inevitable GOP nominee. After his blowout South Carolina win, Gingrich said his job ahead of the next primary—in Florida, on Jan. 31—is to convince his party's voters that he's their best bet to beat President Obama in November. Here, three reasons many voters — both Republicans and Democrats — are hoping for a match-up pitting Gingrich against Obama:
1. The debates would be epic
The most frequently cited cause for Newt's recent surge has been his dominance of the GOP debates, says Michael Tomasky at The Daily Beast. Gingrich's fiery, unflinching performances have exploded the assumption that the even-keeled Romney is the most "electable" Republican in the field. Republicans believe Newt "has proven that he can debate Barack Obama," and "they're just licking their chops over this." Some conservatives are simply blinded by their hatred of Obama. They're not looking for someone who can win as much as they are someone who will "stand on a stage with Obama and say, 'You are our nightmare. You are the destroyer. You are the un-American and the anti-Christ, and I smite you.'"
2. Romney is boring; Gingrich isn't
"It's not that Mr. Gingrich would be the best president," says The Economist. It's just that watching Romney glide to the safe center the minute he wraps up the nomination "will be depressingly predictable. The perception that he will say whatever he feels he must to become president is not founded on sand." Newt, on the other hand, can be counted on to remain the same irascible Newt of the primaries. "Say what you like about the man, but he has ideas, says arresting things," and he's never, ever boring.
3. America would get an honest clash of ideas
Romney, with every hair and every endorsement in place, is still the candidate to beat, says Michael Kazin at The New Republic. But if Newt does win the nomination, "imagine what a refreshing campaign he and Obama could wage. Gingrich has already vowed to challenge the president" to lengthy, moderator-less debates. "Obama would have to agree, lest he seem cowardly." We might actually get "a serious debate between articulate exponents of liberalism and conservatism — the ideological conflict that has shaped American politics since the emergence of a mass movement on the Right in the 1950s." Bring it on.