Why Mitt Must Debate Newt - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
Why Mitt Must Debate Newt

Say what you will about Newt Gingrich. The man isn’t afraid of having a debate.

I would dare say that Gingrich loves debating in the way some people love baseball or cats. And why shouldn’t Gingrich love a good debate? He went from being yesterday’s man to now being in the position to be the future of the Republican Party almost entirely on the strength of his debate performances.

As much as Gingrich enjoys sharing the stage with six, seven, or even eight Republicans at any given moment, the former Speaker of the House clearly likes the one-on-one debate format best of all. Indeed, should Gingrich win the Republican nomination, he will challenge President Obama to seven “Lincoln-Douglas style” debates.

In order to hit the ground running, Gingrich has spent his time engaging in “Lincoln-Douglas” style debates with several of his GOP rivals. Last month, Gingrich went one on one with both Rick Santorum in New Hampshire and the now departed Herman Cain in Texas. Next week, Gingrich returns to the Granite state to go toe to toe with Jon Huntsman.

For a while it appeared that Gingrich would have an opportunity to face off against Republican frontrunner Mitt Romney. But it would appear that Romney does not share Gingrich’s passion for debate. Late last week, Romney declined to debate Gingrich one on one.

So does this mean Mitt fears Newt? In a blog piece in the Washington Times, Rich Stowell doesn’t think so but argues that Romney is making a mistake by not agreeing to debate Gingrich:

Is Romney afraid of Gingrich? Doubtful. Newt is certainly a formidable debater, quick with facts, solid on ideas, and feisty to boot. But Romney is a master of information. He can match up easily with Gingrich on every area of policy, and is on firm conservative ground on most issues.

Maybe Romney has a strategy planned, and a two-man debate doesn’t fit in. Well, someone in his campaign needs to remind him that he is only one for three in elections. Unless he is counting on the law of averages to put him across the line, his strategy needs some major reassessment.

It has been suggested on more than one occasion that Romney’s strategy has been to “run out the clock.” However, it would appear that Romney isn’t making good use of his time. According to the latest NBC News/Marist poll, Romney leads Gingrich by sixteen points in New Hampshire (39% to 23%) amongst likely primary voters. To put this number into perspective, when NBC News/Marist conducted their previous New Hampshire poll two months ago, Romney’s lead over Gingrich was more than forty points (45% to 4%).

With the New Hampshire Primary set to take place in just over a month, Romney stepped up his presence in the Granite state over the weekend with a door-to-door campaign blitz. He has also stepped up his criticism of Gingrich as a Washington insider. During an appearance on Fox & Friends last Friday, Romney stated:

I must admit that Newt has had a very extensive, long record of working in Washington with various governmental and non-governmental agencies, and I just don’t think that’s the background that’s ideally suited, one, to replace Barack Obama, and number two, to lead the country. This is not a matter of that America needs better lobbyists, or better deal-makers, better insiders — I think America needs a leader.

Yet later that same day, Romney’s campaign announced he would not debate Gingrich one on one. What does that tell us? It seems that Romney is perfectly content to criticize Gingrich in an interview but won’t look Gingrich in the eye and tell him what he thinks mano-a-mano.

Mitt Romney after all has a new campaign slogan, “Earn It with Mitt.” But if Romney really wants to earn the Republican nomination he is going to need more than a fancy new campaign video. He needs to convince us why his policies are the best the Republican Party has to offer. In order for him to do that he needs to go through Newt Gingrich face to face, one on one. If Romney won’t debate Gingrich face-to-face, one on one then he better have a damn good reason. To do otherwise would fail to inspire the confidence of conservatives. If Mitt Romney can’t stand up to Newt Gingrich, then how can he be expected to stand up to President Obama?

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