The emergence of Newt Gingrich as frontrunner for the Republican nomination is without doubt very odd. Many pundits thought that Gingrich’s campaign dead in the water after making some incredibly dumb comments about Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget plan. We were all wrong, apparently.
It’s not like the conservative base has embraced Gingrich. After all, Herman Cain excited the base at the beginning of the race. But that eventually moved to Michele Bachmann, who had her brief time in the limelight and won the Ames Straw Poll in mid-August. But after Rick Perry jumped in the race, Bachmann became a distant memory. After Perry proved himself to be an incapable debator and gaffe-prone, where did the support go? Not Gingrich, but back to the inexperienced and unproven Cain.
But now with Cain tapering off again, it’s Gingrich — not Rick Santorum or Ron Paul — who is reaping the benefits. Why? As I noted recently, it’s because GOP voters remember him and respect him as a some sort of intellectual conservative (laughable, I know, given all the statist policies he’s supported).
The reason conservatives aren’t flocking to Paul are sort of obvious, though I don’t expect his average supporter to grasp them. Paul isn’t a neo-conservative, so he doesn’t appeal to warmongers defense-minded GOP voters. While he is personally opposed to gay marriage, he is also a defender of the Tenth Amendment and opposes the Federal Marriage Amendment. And let’s face it, he doesn’t come off as that great of a debator. Sure, his ideas are sound on paper and in practice, I believe. But when it comes articulating them, he just isn’t that great.