eye of newt

The Newtening Proceeds

Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney chat before a debate on November 9, 2011 in Rochester, Michigan.
Mortal enemies. Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images

Newt Gingrich has been rising fast in national polls, and now he’s within two points of Mitt Romney in New Hampshire. Romney remains the favorite there, but if Gingrich can win Iowa, and especially if he can knock Herman Cain out of the race, he would actually stand a chance of winning that state and probably dealing a mortal blow to Romney.

The pattern of anti-Romneys rising and falling has naturally made the press corps suspicious of the latest version. But here’s the thing. Donald Trump, Michele Bachmann, Rick Perry, and Herman Cain didn’t rise and fall because of some natural tidal forces. They fell out of favor because they did not know how to handle a national campaign. (Actually, Bachmann was just sort of swamped by the Perry wave.) Gingrich has tons of liabilities — non-orthodox positions, erratic behavior, little money or organization — but he does have experience in the national spotlight. It’s not completely inevitable that he will implode.