And Gingrich takes the lead

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I’ve managed not to write about the presidential race in a while, in hopes that at long last the GOP would actually settle on a front-runner.  We’ve seen how that has worked out.  But now at least there may be a last man standing, or, for no other reason than in this game of musical front-runners, the music is about to stop.  And whoever is sitting, uh, standing, is done.  We’ve seen Bachman and Cain and Romney and, even for a poll or two, Paul on top.  But now, it’s Newt Gingrich.  Amazing.

The former speaker’s campaign was left for dead six months ago.

But now that the anybody-but-Romney wheel has landed on Gingrich, it’s time for Romney to show what kind of fire he has under that perfect head of hair.

His big chance came in Iowa in the GOP debate.  At one point, Romney suggested he and Gingrich disagree on many subjects.  When pressed to be specific, he responded, “Well, his idea to have a lunar colony to mine minerals from the moon.”  What?!

In a hilarious sendup, Jon Stewart gave what would have certainly been a better response by Romney: “How about, ‘I would not have taken the $1.6 million Newt Gingrich took from Freddie Mac for being a historian while the housing bubble was going on’ or ‘I never had to pay $300,000 to settle Congressional ethics charges’ or ‘I never had to shut down the government based on a sub-optimal Air Force One seating assignment.’”

But the “Daily Show” also summed up in a few words why Mitt Romney is now trailing Gingrich in the GOP race: “Mitt Romney looks like the kind of man who just fired your dad.”

In addition, no matter how pompous he comes off on stage, Newt is still very smart and a great debator.

And it was Newt who delivered what could be a dagger-blow to the former Massachussetts governor who also once ran for U.S. Senate.  Turning confidently on stage to Romney, he said, “Let’s be candid, the only reason you didn’t become a career politician is because you lost to Ted Kennedy in 1994.”

So Newt may be able to get the GOP nomination, but so many in the party feel he just can’t win against President Obama.  And a recent NBC News/WSJ Poll agrees.  Among GOP voters, Gingrich beats Romney 40-23.  But in a race against the president, Obama wins 51-40.

Gingrich’s colleagues in the House are concerned about his temperament.  “Listen to just about anyone who worked alongside Gingrich,” John Sununu, chief of staff to former president George W. Bush, said in the Wall Street Journal. “And you will hear he’s inconsistent, erratic, untrustworthy and unprincipled.”

Pretty tough stuff.

But Newt’s own mouth often is what gets him into trouble.

Listen to what he told the Christian Broadcasting Network about his infidelity:

“There’s no question that at times in my life partially driven by how passionately I felt about this country that I worked far too hard, and that things happened in my life that were not appropriate.”

Gingrich can make fooling around patriotic.

Romney has plenty of material to make his case, but not a lot more time to do it.