(The Wall Street Journal reports: "GINGRICH EMERGES as top conservative prospect for Republican 2008 field. Ebbing fortunes of Santorum, Allen and Frist leave opening for architect of Republicans' 1994 sweep. Gingrich faults Bush for "very disturbing" post-election news conference, saying earlier replacement of Rumsfeld might have saved control of the Senate and 10 House seats." Get ready for Newt '08.) George Will writes in today's Washington Post:
Yet with Allen much diminished and perhaps out of contention, and with Rudy Giuliani not yet doing serious groundwork for a national campaign, the Republican field is already down to two. That is good for only one of them: Romney.
But what about Newt Gingrich? He's given every indication -- publicly and privately -- that he will run; yet Will doesn't mention the former speaker at all in his column. Gingrich won't need much of a "ground game" to make waves in New Hampshire. He's powerful on the stomp, a first-rate debater, and isn't likely to concede the "conservative majority of the party" to anyone. On that score, a candidate Gingrich, or McCain for that matter, would likely hit Romney from the right on several fronts on which he is vulnerable, making it more difficult for any one candidate to consolidate the right in the early races. Folks shouldn't underestimate the impact of a Gingrich candidacy. He won't win the nomination, but along the way don't expect Newt to assume the fetal position against his opponents -- whether they're named McCain or Romney.
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