Last debater leaves podium

It may not be official, but Newt Gingrich, arguably the greatest political debater since John F. Kennedy, is out of the presidential race.
Gingrich is a very complex man.
Those who attempt to categorize him (as an egotist, a fighter for the conservative cause, etc.) don’t really know him.
Newt is a product of his past life and his love of the future. And anyone who bets against his future is crazy.
In the 2012 presidential contest, Newt was basically his own campaign manager. That is never a good idea and generally leads to bad results.
While Mitt Romney may appear cold and distant, he listens to his advisers and runs a perfect campaign.
Newt did the best he could after his entire original campaign team left him last summer.
But he did run his own campaign, and that proved to be the deathblow for his candidacy. Ironically, Newt is much like fellow Georgian Jimmy Carter in that he wants to micromanage every part of his “political business.”
The difference is that Gingrich is a true conservative and a deeply inspiring leader. Carter has become a caricature of himself ... oddly a better president than most realize. Newt was America’s great speaker of the House ... a fact he waited too long to advertise.
Now Newt Gingrich has some very real things to face.
First, he must put all personal feelings behind and get in the Romney corner big-time. It is good for Newt, but even better for Romney, who lost nearly 30 percent of the vote in Delaware to Gingrich a week ago. The GOP must heal, and Gingrich can take the first step.
Then there is his very odd description of Fox News. This network was his bread and butter for years, yet he proclaimed them biased for Mitt Romney. Trust me, folks, this was not Newt thinking clearly. He has benefitted endlessly from interviews with Fox -- as well as, before he became a candidate, serving at a contributor for the network.
The fact is that had Gingrich’s campaign been more focused, he could have won the GOP nomination. Winning South Carolina was no small feat, but being clobbered just days later in Florida showed how the Gingrich political organization, as usual, was disorganized.
But let it not be forgotten that in most of the 2012 Republican presidential debates, Newt Gingrich kicked everyone’s tail. Yes, he fell down at a critical moment prior to the Florida primary vote. But, generally, he was the debate king of the season.

Unfortunately, debates don’t always decide races ... or maybe they do. Gingrich melted in Florida, never to revive. His opponents avoided additional debates with one rare exception, that being a CNN contest in Arizona. Amazingly, after that debate, the popular Gov. Jan Brewer told CNN that she liked Gingrich’s response to the issue of immigration better than those of his fellow candidates. But because Gingrich did not pursue Arizona as a major battleground, Brewer ended up endorsing Mitt Romney.

Was Newt Gingrich the most qualified Republican running for the nomination? Yes. Was he also historically the most inept at running a campaign, keeping money in place and creating a strategy? Yes.

Is the Romney campaign dumb enough to not reach out for his help and advice? We shall see. Because in the case of Gingrich, he is a much better teacher than student, and no one knows that more than me.

I will say, though, that America was robbed and deprived of what could have been the greatest show on earth -- Newt Gingrich debating Barack Obama. Unlike most columnists, I admire Obama’s ability to speak and debate. But he has never met a match like Newt Gingrich, and for the moment it looks like he never will.

(Matthew Towery heads the polling and political information firm InsiderAdvantage. His column is distributed by Morris News and Creators’ Syndicate.)



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