Market Overview

OMG: Gingrich is Back


Republican primary voters must really, really hate Mitt Romney.

So far, they've done everything they can to out-and-out rebel against the probable GOP nominee. They've flirted with the likes of Donald Trump. They tried to talk themselves into Michele Bachmann. They played footsie with Rick Perry.

They tried to woo Chris Christie and Paul Ryan and Mitch Daniels into running, to no avail. They saw Sarah Palin and Mike Huckabee stick with their gigs at Faux News.

They've even supported a sexually harassing, dirty old man in Herman Cain, whose sole claim to fame is running a terrible, terrible pizza company. But as the wheels have come off the Cain campaign, they're still — STILL — looking for someone, anyone, who can run for president whose name isn't Mitt Romney.

Well, don't look now, but that hulking carcass slowly gaining ground in the GOP's rearview mirror is none other than former speaker of the house Newt Gingrich. That's right: Newt Gingrich is huffing, puffing, and ready to blow Herman Cain's house down. Dear God.

It wasn't that long ago that Gingrich's campaign was left for dead. He's a loose cannon who can't stop cheating on his wives, has a sordid past of divorcing women with cancer, and is a generally unlikeable person in American politics. Gingrich is what you'd get if you mixed the worst parts of Dick Cheney with the worst parts of Bill Clinton, and then pissed into the mixture for good measure.

This spring, Gingrich was the subject of investigations after it turned out that he received a sweetheart deal from Tiffany's (NYSE: TIF) while his wife was a staffer of a committee that regulates Tiffany's. That the sweetheart deal came in the form of interest-free loans on nearly a million dollars in jewelry just made the whole "Man of the People" shtick a little, well, hard to sell. At least, hard to sell for less than a million dollars.

Yet, here we are, with polls showing Gingrich leapfrogging all the also-rans and placing himself right into the thick of things. Gingrich himself predicted last week, as Cain's moronic campaign started to unravel, that things would wind down to a two-man race between Mitt Romney and himself.

That is exactly where we appear to be headed.

You can pick and choose which polls you want, but on average, Romney, Cain, and Gingrich are all within a couple of points of each other nationally. Romney has the advantage in that he holds a big lead in New Hampshire and Florida, while Cain leads in Iowa and South Carolina. If the sex scandals around Cain have any traction among voters beyond this week, those leads will slip away for Cain. If they go to Romney, this race will be over on February 1. If those voters go to Gingrich, then it's anybody's game.

No matter how it shakes out, this rise in Gingrich's fortunes is a surprising twist in a presidential nominating process that has played out unlike any I've ever seen before. As always, stay tuned to Benzinga as we follow this election process out right through election day, 2012.

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To comment on this (or any of my columns), visit my user page at Benzinga. You can also reach me by email or on twitter @johndthorpe.


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Posted-In: GOP 2012 Herman Cain Mitt Romney Newt GingrichNews Movers & Shakers Politics General Best of Benzinga

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