Tonight, the GOP candidates appear in the last debate before the Iowa caucuses. And for Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, it will be his second debate since becoming the frontrunner for the Republican nod.
Newt’s surge is due largely in part because his name is not “Mitt Romney” and his path to the nomination will rely heavily on the support of conservatives and Tea Party activists.
But is it safe to assume that just because Newt is the anti-Romney that he is the automatic choice of the grassroots?
Over at the Weekly Standard, PJTV alum Owen Brennan takes an interesting look at the complicated relationship between Newt Gingrich and the Tea Party. Is Newt really the choice of the movement?
Brennan illustrates the Gingrich/Tea Party paradox:
An ABC News headline screams, “Democrats Blast Newt Gingrich in First Video Ad as ‘Original Tea Partier.’” CNN claims “strong support from the tea party movement is contributing to the former House speaker’s surge among likely Republican primary voters and caucus-goers.”
But two politicians supported by Tea Party activists say, “Not so fast.”
Senator Rand Paul says he knows the Tea Party movement. And Newt Gingrich is no Tea Party guy. Rep. Michelle Bachmann goes even further suggesting Gingrich is a Romney-esque ‘Not Romney.’
So the DNC and some folks in the media think Newt is the Tea Party candidate. But conservative voices, like Glenn Beck and Michele Bachmann, blast Newt’s Tea Party credentials.
But what do the grassroots think? Familiar voices like Stephen Kruiser and Tony Katz offer their analysis:
Katz explains that even though some of Gingrich’s past, present, and future policies might not be congruent with Tea Party core principles, Tea Party activists should like his style. “There’s some rugged individualism with Newt and that will set him apart from Romney.”
In short, Gingrich has got some ‘splainin’ to do if he wants to capture the Tea Party vote.
But what say you? Do you think Gingrich can maintain the support of the Tea Party to propel himself to the nomination?