1. Newt’s speech was impressive in its classical American exceptionalism vs. Obama’s European Alinskyism. Nerds who read blogs will note his mention of THE FEDERALIST PAPERS. Romney was lame by comparison. Santorum was in the middle. In the CNN focus group, it’s interesting and depressing to note how many believe that Newt could, with his stark contrasts, debate Obama into submission. Our Pete is free of such illusions, and we need to get him on CNN.

2. Negative campaigning against Newt, I fear, is like chemo: It won’t work as well the second time. His line that all the charges against him are part of the dispicable media plot to destroy him and all other decent men who run for president has taken hold. There’s also the problem that Romney won’t be so good in bringing the charges in person.

3. Now Romney has to release his tax forms immediately—but the act won’t seem to be voluntary but a necessity of humiliating defeat.

4. Establishment Republicans are shaking in their boots over Newt. Here are the reasons: Newt has extremely high negatives, although not so much, of course, among those who vote in Republican primaries. There’s no evidence in terms of character, temperament, administrative competence, and so forth that he would be a capable president. Actually governing doesn’t depend much on debating. They don’t want to lose Congress. The Democratic strategy, at this point, amounts to showing that the Republican candidate is more loathsome and incompetent than the president, and Newt is the candidate who fits their strategy best. The Republican members of Congress don’t like him and don’t want to work with him. Most of all the establishment guys are shaking because they know they have no control over primary momentum.

5. I disagree that Obama is easy to beat. His negatives aren’t THAT high, and he’s an excellent campaigner. All the polls show a close race, with the president ahead a bit so far. The most likely result, in fact, is a close election.

6. The fear is that Romney just can’t generate the passion to prevail in a tight race. He definitely wouldn’t lose big. The Republicans for Newt are at their strongest when they realize Obama is not such an easy target, and so they’re okay with the high risk strategy of letting Newt be Newt. Because choosing Romney is choosing respectable defeat, they prefer to win or lose (who know?) big with Newt.

7. Romney only got 6% of the vote in SC among those who said abortion is the top issue. Newt got a lot more. There’s no justice . . .

8. Santorum position isn’t good. He’s been written off by many as a serious candidate, although he did have a mini-SC surge to finish third comfortably. But he’s not without hope. What happens if Newt implodes and Romney can’t get popular? Most Republican members of Congress aren’t thrilled with the Santorum candidacy either. Compared with Newt, though . . .

9. I do think Rick is too out-there socially conservative to beat Obama, although I could be wrong. The most likely Santorum scenario is doing badly in Florida and then not having enough resources to compete effectively on Super Tuesday.

10. Jeb Bush endorsing Romney in Florida won’t help Mitt. Might actually hurt him.

11. Romney has fallen from a projected 90 percent chance of being nominated to barely a favorite.

12. It might be pretty easy to predict that Newt wins Florida.

13. After that, it’s impossible to predict. Any decent person would immerse himself in the fantasy of a brokered convention.

14. Ron Paul finally had a disappointing night. Florida has a closed primary. And so he’s been reduced to troublemaker.

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Articles by Peter Lawler

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