The early days of Newt Gingrich’s presidential campaign were just epically, historically bad. Almost right out of the gate, Gingrich was attacked by his GOP colleagues for criticizing Paul Ryan’s budget plan, embarrassed by his Tiffany spending sprees, then forced into a really awkward extended handshake with a guy who berated him the entire time. His spokesman released a ridiculous statement that recounted, from the future:
A lesser person could not have survived the first few minutes of the onslaught. But out of the billowing smoke and dust of tweets and trivia emerged Gingrich, once again ready to lead those who won’t be intimated by the political elite and are ready to take on the challenges America faces.
A few weeks later, nearly everyone on Gingrich’s staff resigned, and the Gingrich Deathwatch was on. But Gingrich clung on, and over the past few days, has even started to see some momentum. Maybe it was the recent string of debates, in which Gingrich frequently chastised the moderators for their silly games — always a crowd-pleaser. Maybe he’s profiting from the simultaneous declines of Michele Bachmann and Rick Perry, as conservative voters look for their latest not-Romney. Whatever happened, Newt Gingrich is, at least for the moment, in a position to conceivably win the race … for third place.
In a new CNN poll today, Gingrich grabbed 11 percent, behind only Perry and Mitt Romney. He also won the endorsement of Judson Phillips, the founder of Tea Party Nation. And in another good omen, Bill Clinton, no political novice, predicted a few days ago that Gingrich could even “pull what McCain did last time,” a.k.a., come from behind to win the nomination.
That’s definitely not going to happen. But Gingrich could conceivably separate himself from the rest of the middle-tier pack — Michele Bachmann, Ron Paul, and Herman Cain — and end up taking the bronze. That would be about where he started the race at the beginning of the year, but considering his campaign’s early setbacks, getting back to where he started would represent something of a miracle.
CNN Poll: Perry still at top but Romney stronger vs. Obama [Political Ticker/CNN]
Newt Gingrich endorsed by Tea Party Nation founder Judson Phillips [Politico 2012]
Bill Clinton: Gingrich Could Be GOP Nominee in 2012 [Newsmax]