Opinion Brief

Are Dems foolish to overlook the Gingrich threat?

President Obama's supporters are focusing their attacks on Mitt Romney — even though Newt leads in many GOP primary polls

Newt Gingrich is on a roll. The former House speaker, who recently won the endorsement of New Hampshire's influential Union Leader newspaper, has risen to the top of GOP presidential polls. Still, Democrats are focusing their attacks on Mitt Romney, whom they seem to view as the inevitable Republican nominee, and are largely ignoring Newt. Are Democrats wisely avoiding wasted resources, or will they rue the day that they failed to take Gingrich more seriously?

Democrats are wise to focus on Mitt: Dems clearly think that "Mitt Romney is the GOP's most formidable opponent for President Obama," says J.P. Green at The Democratic Strategist, "and weakening him now could help one of the more vulnerable Republican candidates get the GOP nod, thereby improving Obama's re-election prospects." This strategy is not without its risks, "but the Republican attack ads against President Obama are already rolling, and they should be answered."
"DNC gets medieval on Mitt: Too early or right on time?"

Still, Obama might have to go after Newt: As a leader in the GOP pack, says Robert J. Vicker in the Harrisburg, Penn., Patriot-News, Romney's enjoyed the luxury of being able to ignore his GOP opponents and focus on the Democratic incumbent — a classic primary strategy that fosters a sense of inevitability. But now that Gingrich is gaining momentum, he's also "giving his Republican primary rivals a pass," and attacking Obama directly. The Democrats couldn't ignore Romney. And they might not be able to ignore Newt any longer, either.
"Democrats decide that their TV target will be Romney"

And the Dems' Newt-bashing strategy is clear: There's a real chance that Newt will be the GOP nominee, says Scott Galupo at U.S. News. So Obama should attack "the firebrand Gingrich" using the same strategy Bill Clinton employed against "milquetoast Beltway compromiser" Bob Dole in 1996: Hanging an unpopular Congress like a "millstone" around your GOP opponent's neck. Team Clinton successfully "conjured a mythical two-headed beast — the 'Dole-Gingrich Congress.'" Obama can do the same thing to the former House speaker if he "relentlessly spotlights" the current House GOP's unpopular proposals — such as its "plan to cut Medicare spending."
"How Barack Obama should attack Newt Gingrich"

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