With another strong debate performance, which was hosted by CNBC, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich may be cementing his chance to be the last-man-standing in the race to be the conservative, anti-Romney Republican.
Gingrich did well by continuing his campaign messages of defeating Barack Obama with Republican unity, bold conservative ideas to turn the country around, and the dastardliness of the media.
“I would say that all of us on the stage represent a dramatically greater likelihood of getting to a paycheck and leaving behind food stamps than does Barack Obama,” said Gingrich in closing his opening remarks.
Gingrich had help from some of the other candidates on stage, particularly Texas Gov. Rick Perry and Herman Cain, who are the other strongest competitors for the anti-Romney vote.
Cain continued to focus like a laser on his 9-9-9 plan and demonstrated his unquestionable charm, but clearly the sexual harassment allegations have overshadowed his policies. Perry’s night was nothing short of catastrophic, as he had a cringe-inducing brain-freeze on the three federal departments he would abolish, only being able to name two before he gave up.
Gingrich had several dust-ups with the moderators of CNBC, especially Maria Bartiromo. When Gingrich said that the media had been reporting inaccurately about the economy, Bartiromo asked, “What is the media reporting inaccurately about the economy?”
“I love humor disguised as a question. That’s terrific,” Gingrich responded.
“I have yet to hear a single reporter ask a single Occupy Wall Street person a single rational question about the economy that would lead them to say, for example, “Who is going to pay for the park you are occupying if there are no businesses making a profit?” Gingrich said.
On housing, Gingrich went out of his way to praise Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann and saying how vital it is to eliminate the Dodd/Frank financial regulation if the housing market is to be revived.
“To pick up on something Congresswoman Bachmann said, if the Republican House next week would repeal Dodd/Frank, and allow us to put pressure on the Senate to repeal Dodd/Frank, you would see the housing market start to improve overnight.”
On top of repealing Dodd/Frank, Gingrich said that the housing market wouldn’t recover if the country continued to perform economically poor.
“When you are at four percent unemployment, you suddenly have a dramatic increase in demand for housing. When you’re at nine percent-plus unemployment, it’s hard to get the housing market to come back,” Gingrich said.
Breaking up the government backed Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were also part of his ideas about how to fix housing policy, saying that he didn’t lobby for them and that he offered them advice “on precisely what they didn’t do.”
Perhaps the biggest moment for Gingrich came when he was asked to say, in 30 seconds, how he would fix Medicaid.
To say in 30 seconds what you would do with 18 percent of the economy, life and death for the American people, a topic I’ve worked on since 1974, about which I wrote about called “Saving Lives and Saving Money” in 2002, and for which I founded the Center for Health Transformation, is the perfect case of why I’m going to challenge the president to seven Lincoln- Douglas style three-hour debates with a timekeeper and no moderator, at least two of which ought to be on health care so you can have a serious discussion over a several-hour period that affects the lives of every person in this country.
After that, Gingrich continued to bicker with Bartiromo, before finally answering the question about Medicaid as completely as possible with the remaining time he was given. He said that he would “re-localize” it and put it back at the “state-level”, and then focus on health cures
“I am for fixing our health rather than fixing our health bureaucracy,” Gingrich said.
On other entitlement reform ideas Gingrich was strong too. When asked about Social Security reform he mentioned the “Galveston or Chilean-style systems”, programs specifically supported by Gov. Perry and Cain respectively.
Gingrich has been performing steadily, and often dynamically in the Republican debates. It is his greatest strength and he hasn’t disappointed. This strength alone may not have given Gingrich an opening to rise in the polls; his competitors have done a good job of beating themselves. But with other candidates faltering, voters might be willing to give Gingrich another chance despite his own early stumbles. If that happens he might become more than just the anti-Romney candidate, but the frontrunner.