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Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Newt Gingrich's Path to Victory

(Editor's note: This post is the fifth in a six-part series between now and Saturday's South Carolina Primary. Each part will examine how each candidate might pull off a nomination.
For Rick Perry's, which can be found at my Construction Lit Mag column, click here.
For Jon Huntsman's (awkward), click here.
For Rick Santorum's, click here.
For Ron Paul's zombie apocalypse, click here.)

On August 27, you return from something that's kept you gone a long time. You make a joke about nurses and then turn on some random news station that's covering the beginning of the Republican National Convention. You make a joke about the commentators. You think that a blog will give you better information and visit Presidential Politics for America, though you see that despite becoming the most popular website in the history of the Internet, IC has grown weak, tired, and lazy from writing one post a day along with holding down a time-consuming job and writing a thesis all at once. Anyway, here's what IC had to say.

Newt Gingrich's South Carolina debate performances saved his flailing candidacy. That's not to say he had discernibly stronger South Carolina debates than his opponents. It is to say that the raucous crowd swayed heavily in the favor of the articulate, feisty Georgia conservative. The Gingrich Campaign knew how the standing ovation into the commercial break looked. It looked great. It looked like South Carolina--and perhaps conservatives in general--anointed a leader. Team Gingrich played the commercial over and over in South Carolina, calling it "The Moment." Supportive crowds do not ensure a strong candidate, but they do influence voters watching at home. This crowd and this standing ovation did just that.

Gingrich seized upon the opportunity given to him. He called for Perry and Santorum to drop out and rally support around a true conservative--himself--explaining, "I am respectful that Rick has every right to run as long as he feels that's what he should do, but from the stand point of the conservative movement, consolidating into a Gingrich candidacy would in fact virtually guarantee a victory on Saturday."

Virtually guarantee a victory on Saturday. They didn't drop out, but this kind of leadership--albeit selfish--was enough to put him over the top of not only his fellow conservatives, but Mitt Romney, as well. Enough Santorum and Perry supporters saw in Gingrich the aggressive nature necessary to make a run at Romney. Even Sarah Palin came out in support of a Gingrich win in the Palmetto State.

The South Carolina win thrust him into the clear lead among the conservative pack (though even a top two should have made him the clear "Non"mey). Perry, in a third straight disappointing finish, dropped out and endorsed Gingrich. The Santorum Campaign held off on a decision for a few days, taking stock of their financial situation and national polling figures, but they ultimately realized he could not continue to compete. However, he fell short of a Gingrich endorsement. Rather, it's Romney's VP position on which he had his eye, and a Gingrich endorsement would have hurt that opportunity. Still, endorsing Romney before Gingrich would have been highly questionable after the campaign he ran, so he waited to see who gained the upper hand in the primary.

Gingrich's momentum converted into a Florida win. Both candidates split states throughout February and March, including Super Tuesday. They and Ron Paul put on numerous debates across the country, and with each one, Gingrich looked better and better. He finished the primary season with the delegate lead. The Convention itself will determine the nominee, but every pundit agrees that Gingrich has all the momentum and is the guy.

And that's how Newt Gingrich became the Republican nominee for President.

(Editor's note: This was the fifth in a six-part series on each candidate before the South Carolina Primary. See you back here for the series conclusion, Part VI.)

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