POLITICS

VIDEO: Gingrich Called an ‘Embarrassment’ During First Trip to Iowa

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May 18, 2011, 5:15 a.m.

Con­duc­ted 10/2-4 by Green­berg Quin­lan Ros­ner Re­search (D); sur­veyed 816 LVs; mar­gin of er­ror +/- 3.4% (re­lease, 10/7).

Obama As POTUS

- Now 9/2 Ap­prove 42% 45% Dis­ap­prove 52 52

Dir­ec­tion Of U.S.

- Now 9/2 Right dir. 29% 29% Wrong dir. 63 63

House Gen­er­al Elec­tion Match­up

- Now 9/2 Gen­er­ic GOP­er 49% 49% Gen­er­ic Dem 43 42 Oth­er 2 2 Un­dec 4 6

Fav/Un­fav

- Now 9/2 B. Obama 45%/44% 44%/45% The GOP 38 /42 35 /42 Dem Party 37 /47 36 /46 Dem Con­gress 36 /50 34 /50

Which Party Would Do A Bet­ter Job Hand­ling ___? (*, ^ — Split Samples)

- Dems GOP­ers Both Neither Un­dec Re­tire­ment/So­cial Se­cur­ity^ 44% 37% 1% 8% 11% Listen­ing to people^ 43 31 2 13 11 Be­ing on your side 40 38 1 8 12 Health care* 40 46 0 5 10 The eco­nomy 38 46 1 6 8 Bring­ing the right kind of change* 37 44 1 8 10 Taxes 37 48 1 6 9 Fed­er­al budget de­fi­cit* 34 46 0 8 11 Gov’t spend­ing^ 33 49 1 8 9

Re­mem­ber those five things we asked you to watch on Tues­day night? It turns out the voters de­cided to raise more ques­tions than even we had.

But here are the things we were watch­ing for:

1. How weak or strong will Mitt Rom­ney be on Wed­nes­day morn­ing?
In­ter­est­ingly enough, Rom­ney ap­peared far weak­er on Tues­day night than he turned out to be when every­one awoke the next day. With Ohio still hanging in the bal­ance at mid­night, Rick San­tor­um looked pretty good with Ten­ness­ee, Ok­lahoma, and North Dakota un­der his belt. Rom­ney had scored wins only in Mas­sachu­setts, a state he once gov­erned; Ver­mont, a neigh­bor­ing state; and Vir­gin­ia, where Ron Paul was his only com­pet­i­tion. And even there, Paul was able to con­sol­id­ate the anti-Rom­ney vote with 41 per­cent of the total.

But with his Ohio vic­tory, nar­row as it was, day­light showed Rom­ney to be so far ahead in the del­eg­ate count — with one third of those needed to clinch the nom­in­a­tion — that we were re­minded how dif­fi­cult it will be for any­one else to catch up. And he ad­ded wins in Idaho and Alaska for good meas­ure.

Mitt Rom­ney and Rick San­tor­um (CNN)

2. What is Rick San­tor­um’s path come Wed­nes­day morn­ing?
If you were ex­pect­ing San­tor­um (or Newt Gin­grich, or Paul) to fade away, you were sorely mis­taken. San­tor­um, as Rom­ney’s chief rival, was in­vig­or­ated by the re­l­at­ively in­ex­pens­ive suc­cess he had at keep­ing Rom­ney on the run. The Rom­ney forces are stress­ing their del­eg­ate ad­vant­age, but that is not new. San­tor­um, who has been able to tap in­to the rest­ive ranks of con­ser­vat­ive Re­pub­lic­ans who do not seem to trust the front-run­ner, is diving im­me­di­ately in­to Kan­sas, Mis­sis­sippi, and Alabama.

3. Will Gin­grich be cred­ible as a likely nom­in­ee even if he wins Geor­gia?
As his party’s nom­in­ee? It’s hard to see how. But as a trouble­maker for the fore­see­able fu­ture? Ab­so­lutely. “There are lots of bunny rab­bits that run through,” Gin­grich said dis­missively at his Geor­gia vic­tory party on Tues­day night. “I’m the tor­toise; I just take one step at a time.”

But un­like in Geor­gia, the afore­men­tioned San­tor­um plans to give Gin­grich a run for those anti-Rom­ney voters. As the res­ults in Vir­gin­ia demon­strated, the former Mas­sachu­setts gov­ernor is more vul­ner­able one-on-one. And as the res­ults in South Car­o­lina and Ten­ness­ee showed, Rom­ney is weak­er in the South.

The longer Gin­grich and San­tor­um duke it out, the bet­ter for Rom­ney. But that does not im­prove the map for Gin­grich.

Rom­ney aides told re­port­ers in a post-Su­per Tues­day strategy memo: “As Gov­ernor Rom­ney’s op­pon­ents at­tempt to ig­nore the ba­sic prin­ciples of math, the only per­son’s odds of win­ning they are in­creas­ing are Pres­id­ent Obama’s.”

4. How vig­or­ously will Pres­id­ent Obama try to use his White House bully pul­pit to stomp on the GOP’s big day?
Well, he did try. A White House news con­fer­ence or­din­ar­ily sucks all the air out of the room. But since the meet­ing with re­port­ers was dom­in­ated by ques­tions about na­tion­al se­cur­ity and U.S.-Is­rael re­la­tions, there was pre­cious little time de­voted to polit­ics.

But when it did come up — in the form of a ques­tion about what he wanted to say to Rom­ney, who had called him “the most feck­less pres­id­ent since Carter” — the pres­id­ent shrugged it off. “Good luck to­night,” he said to laughter. “Really?” a re­port­er asked. “Really,” the pres­id­ent replied, firmly and with a politi­cian’s smile.

It was a handy re­mind­er that the Obama cam­paign has nev­er taken its eye off the Rom­ney ball. They don’t mind that Rom­ney is in a dam­aging dog­fight, but they have al­ways con­sidered him to be the can­did­ate they will face in the fall.

5. Will Re­pub­lic­ans be­gin to co­alesce around a win­ner?
See above. Not quite yet. But ex­pect Rom­ney to spend the next sev­er­al weeks try­ing with all his might to roll out enough en­dorse­ments, raise enough money, and pull enough strings to rally the party around the strongest ar­gu­ment he has right now: in­ev­it­ab­il­ity.

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