Saturday, November 19th, 2011 at 12:53am

Gingrich, A Rising Star, But Who For #2?

Posted by vicepresidents

When I was in Connecticut visiting family last month, I asked my Tea Party supporting second cousin who they were looking at in the race for a Republican nominee. “We like Newt,” she said, pointing at his witty and stellar debate performances. She’s certainly not alone in this sentiment. Suddenly, the Former House Speaker has emerged from the wings as a top contender, tied with Cain and Romney for the lead, according to the most recent Fox News Poll.

Looking for a moment at the Fox News Poll…

  • gingrichGingrich would still trail Obama with 41 percent of the vote (compared to Obama’s 44 percent) and, in fact, the only candidate polling ahead of Obama is Romney, who would garner 44 percent of the vote… if you believe in polls, of course.
  • Among Republicans only, Gingrich leads Romney by 1 point in “who they’d like to see as the Republican nominee.” Interestingly enough, back in August, Gingrich only had 3 percent support, whereas Mitt has held steady at about 22 percent.
  • Gingrich also leads when people were asked, “Which candidate would you trust MOST with nuclear weapons,” indicating that people view Newt as a sober and intelligent leader.
  • He’s just one percentage point below Romney when the public was asked whether they feel he has the “ability to serve effectively.”
  • Looking at the demographics, Gingrich would beat Obama among white voters (48%), tea party voters (82%), and Republican voters (79%).
  • He ties Obama with male voters, but he still has to court Independent voters (35%), women voters (39%), moderates (25%) and non-white voters (20%).
  • Age-wise, he’s polling well with people in the 35-44 age bracket, but is trailing by about 10 percentage points in other areas.

newt gingrich

Graphic by USA Today

Rising Popularity

In addition to an uptick in the polls, Gingrich has wooed the support of comedian Dennis Miller away from Cain and former Georgia senator John Douglas away from Perry. He received an endorsement from House Rep Josh Byrnes in Iowa due to his foreign policy street cred and he has the nod of Natalie Ginty, the Chairwoman of the Iowa Federation of College Republicans. With Iowa being a major battlegrounds, endorsements in this state are obviously very helpful. He received praise from Conservative South Carolina Senator Jim DeMint on national television. Things are looking good… but like any top contender, the dirt comes out from underneath the rug once the light is shining his way. If he can get past the millions of dollars he made from Freddie Mac and health industry lobbyists, then he just might be in the position to pick a VEEP.

Some point out the ailing Perry campaign as a source of support for Gingrich, but the Former House Speaker explains his surge as follows: “I think it comes down to substance. I think America is in trouble, and the American people know we’re in trouble,” he says. “I think they’re looking for leadership that has both solutions big enough that they can work and has experience, and I’m the only candidate in the race that’s actually led a national effort, who worked with Ronald Reagan to get the economy to grow again and to defeat the Soviet empire, and who as speaker of the House helped develop four consecutive balanced budgets while bringing unemployment down to 4.2 percent. So I think it’s a combination of really big solutions and the experience, where people can say he might really be able to get it done. They’ve come together and given us the support we’ve gotten over the past few weeks.”

VEEPstakes

In a recent Newsmax interview, Newt Gingrich said it’s “a real possibility” he would consider asking GOP contender Herman Cain to be his running mate. This could help Gingrich with the non-white vote, the Florida vote (where Cain won the straw poll), and among women (where he won the GOP women straw poll). Cain says he’s “in it to win it” and does not plan to be anyone’s running mate. On the other hand, Gingrich says he’s willing to anything he can to help defeat Obama (although he’d much rather take the top spot on the ticket). Gingrich also added that there are others he’d consider – like Florida Senator Marco Rubio and Ohio Senator Rob Portman, for example.  Marco Rubio is an obvious choice for any nominee, as we’ve already discussed, although he’d never take the job. Rob Portman brings the swing state of Ohio, experience on the budget committee, a history of co-authoring over a dozen bills that became law, and international trade experience. If he wants to woo some moderates and independents, he might consider choosing someone like Chris Christie (a “closet moderate?”) or Mitch Daniels.

cain and gingrich

Who do YOU think Newt should pick?

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© 2011 The VEEP: Thoughts & Analysis on the Vice Presidents