Is Newt the G.O.P.'s Next Hope?

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As the Cain campaign has been consumed by stories of sexual harassment, Newt Gingrich is beating Mitt Romney in Iowa, according to one new poll, and has surged into double digits nationally according to another. And his rise in the polls couldn't have come at a better time for the former House speaker: he's got a new book out. Gingrich went on the Today show Monday to promote his novelization of a bloody Civil War battle -- "The Potomac was concealed beneath coiling fog and mists rising up from the river, shrouding the capital city on the opposite shore" -- just as his plan to win the Republican presidential nomination through more speeches and less baby-kissing appears to be paying off. NBC News' First Read says that one the one hand, Gingrich needs to make it look less like he's in the race just to sell books, but on the other hand, Herman Cain's book tour hasn't hurt him one bit.

"Any progress is good progress," Gingrich spokesman R.C. Hammond told Elicia Dover, noting Gingrich's doubling his support from 6 percent to 12 percent in ABC News' poll. "What we’re looking to do is continually march toward the caucus and put forth ideas and solutions." Slate's Dave Weigel notes that while he remains a Newtmentum skeptic, one sign that he's catching on is that other candidates are starting to steal his ideas. Rick Santorum is cribbing Gingrich's idea to dissolve the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals because it's too liberal. Meanwhile, as The Daily Caller's Alexis Levinson writes, Santorum is also trying to take credit for Gingrich's signature accomplishment: the Republican Revolution, the 1994 election that gave the party its first majority in the House of Representatives in decades. "With all due respect to Newt, it really wasn't the Contract with America," Santorum said. "It was [current House Speaker John] Boehner and Santorum trying to expose all the corruption."

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We Ask America released a poll showing Gingrich climbing ahead of Mitt Romney in Iowa into second place with 18 percent. Only Cain is ahead of him with 22 percent. Could Gingrich knock off his fellow businessman-candidate, too? At the friendly debate with Cain this weekend, the rivals only had nice things to say about each other. But Ed Morrissey says at the conservative blog Hot Air that Gingrich had the upper hand:

[Gingrich] had better command of both the issues and the facts, offered plenty of corroborative studies and resources, and managed to make all of it accessible to the average voter.  Cain did well at times, but twice had to ask Newt to handle questions first, which isn't exactly a confidence builder.  Cain seemed confused about the difference between defined-benefit and premium-support approaches on Medicare, getting confused between pension plans and health care later on the same point.  While Cain discussed philosophical approaches to these issues confidently, Gingrich had actual data at the ready, and the difference was telling.

Gingrich combines what voters want -- aggressive criticism of President Obama -- with what reporters like -- signs that he has actually "opened a newspaper."

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.