Although my co-blogger voted for Newt Gingrich for President in the recent South Carolina primary, I would only vote for the former Speaker were he the Republican nominee running against the failed incumbent.
I expect I will have more to say about his candidacy in due time — about a testiness similar to that of the man who seeks to replace (which said Democrat manifested most recently in Arizona). Or his commitment to Reaganite conservatism — at least in the abstract, he very much supports the ideals the Gipper espoused (but his criticism Mitt Romney’s professional endeavors calls that into question).
Having interned for Newt, I have seen him up close, having gained, as a result, a great respect for his intellect and his energy. He is very much a man of ideas and that is perhaps his greatest strength — and his greatest weakness.
It is a strength because it shows his imagination, his ability to think outside the box, to believe things possible that others see as figments of an optimistic conservatives’ imagination. He doesn’t just repeat ideas, like some politicians repeating talking points. He speaks from the heart.
Not all his ideas, however, are good ones. And he’ll often bounce those off whatever audience he can find, be it his congressional staff, a reporter, on a panel discussion or at a campaign event. And sometimes those, well, apparently loony* ideas, make him appear a little, well, eccentric.
Writing about last night’s debate, Michael Barone pretty much summed it up:
Gingrich seemed to me to morph into his expansive “grandiose” mode, which he enjoys immensely and in which he tends to say many interesting things. Interesting, but not necessarily vote-winning. His proposal advanced on the stump yesterday for a moon colony and admission to the Union as a state if it reaches a population of 13,000—kind of interesting to think about . . .
Interesting to think about yes, but not beneficial to his public image. Or his presidential campaign.