When watching yesterday’s debate in Iowa, I was struck by Newt Gingrich’s strong answers. His rise in the polls came suddenly, surprising not just the other candidates but even Gingrich himself, yet he showed no sign of being nervous. He jumped on every opportunity to rip President Obama and to defend his record. It was the behavior and attitude of a guy with great confidence in himself and in his debating skills.
The former Speaker of the House compared himself several times to President Ronald Reagan yesterday (as he has done throughout the campaign). He worked with the 40th president, he argued, and learned a lot from him. In many ways, he’d like voters to believe, he even resembles Reagan.
Well, like Reagan, Gingrich is indeed quite feisty. He’s willing to take the fight to his opponents and their (progressive) ideology. However, there are also a few major differences, the most important of which are:
1. Reagan clearly had a conservative record, Gingrich does not.
2. Reagan was a very likable guy, Gingrich is anything but.
The second point should not be underestimated. Gingrich is a great debater, but it’s incredibly difficult to actually like him. That will be a problem in the national elections, when he has to take on a president who is liked (although voters don’t think too highly of his policies). Independents who aren’t sure whom to vote for always end up voting for the candidate they sympathize with most, which means that the Independent vote will go to Obama, if Gingrich is his opponent.
As we all know, you can only win when Independents are behind you. Gingrich, then, is destined to lose.