Is Gingrich Pulling a McCain?

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MACON, GA - MAY 13: Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich is the keynote speaker during the Georgia Republican Party Victory Dinner on May 13, 2011 in Macon, Georgia. Gingrich announced Wednesday his candidacy to run for the Republican Presidental nomination in 2012. (Photo by Jessica McGowan/Getty Images)

MACON, GA – MAY 13: Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich is the keynote speaker during the Georgia Republican Party Victory Dinner on May 13, 2011 in Macon, Georgia. Gingrich announced Wednesday his candidacy to run for the Republican Presidental nomination in 2012. (Photo by Jessica McGowan/Getty Images)

Written by Dominic Dezzutti

Back in 2007, during the early stages of the 2008 Presidential campaign, John McCain’s presidential campaign was floundering. In fact, McCain came very close to shutting it down, barely registering a blip in early polls and finding himself being passed up by the up and coming hotshots in the race.

However, eventually the hotshots like Guiliani and Huckabee began to fade and with every fading star, McCain seemed to gain momentum. Then in New Hampshire, McCain scored a big upset and rode that energy to the nomination.

Fast forward to 2011 and Newt Gingrich is making his best attempt at repeating John McCain’s miraculous comeback from 2008.

So can Newt Gingrich pull off a 2012 miracle?

There’s a case to be made for both sides.

Gingrich supporters can take heart that the rotating carousel of GOP surges may have randomly called Newt’s number at just the right time.

The comeback also looks more realistic when you also consider that the New Hampshire Union Leader, an influential newspaper in New Hampshire, announced their endorsement of Gingrich this week. While no newspaper endorsement is a guarantee, it was a major coup for Gingrich to score the endorsement in the state where Mitt Romney hopes to make a major statement.

Finally, the Gingrich team must enjoy that Newt is becoming the traditional Republican candidate, appealing to mainstream GOP supporters. Essentially, when Republican voters are being faced with a variety of flawed candidates, Gingrich is seeing great value in being the long standing seasoned re-tread. What was once a weakness is now a strength.

However, before Team Newt starts to focus on Barack Obama, they will need to take stock in some other, not as rosy realities.

First of all, Newt Gingrich may want to repeat John McCain’s comeback, but he must deal with the fact that he has a personality that makes John McCain look like Goldie Hawn on Laugh In. Gingrich’s attitude must stop being best described as snarky.

But that is also who Newt is. It’s not like he’s going to be able to really change that. It’s a liability that he may simply have to hope voters somehow find endearing.

Secondly, while Gingrich is the closest candidate to a traditional Republican politician, his past baggage is not traditional. He has his own relationship and divorce issues and some lingering questions about his connection to Fannie Mae that will only grow on the campaign trail. He’ll either need to address these issues, or the spotlight of taking the lead in the polls will ignite those issues on fire.

Finally, Gingrich has been an also ran for nearly all of 2011, only coming on strong in the last two weeks. That sudden surge may be good for headlines, but it may be too late in the game to build the ground game that winning in the first primaries demands. Gingrich will have to prove to fundraisers that he is more than December’s flavor of the week on the GOP presidential campaign.

Newt Gingrich stands on the precipice of history this week. In the next few days, he will either make the moves that will begin an amazing McCain-esque comeback, or he will become the latest GOP candidate to fade after rising to the top of the polls. Either way, Newt Gingrich will make history.

Which way it will go for him is the only thing left to find out.
About The Blogger

- Dominic Dezzutti, producer of the Colorado Decides debate series, a co-production of CBS4 and Colorado Public Television, looks at the local and national political scene in his CBSDenver.com blog. Read new entries here every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Dezzutti writes about federal, state and local matters and how our elected leaders are handling the issues important to Colorado. Dezzutti also produces the Emmy winning Colorado Inside Out, hosted by Raj Chohan, on Colorado Public Television.

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