Newt Gingrich won the South Carolina GOP Primary last night. He won big, flattening Mitt Romney, who had been leading in the polls there for weeks.
How did he do it?
For Newt, it has always been about the debates. Newt is mentally sharper than most of the other candidates, and he knows his material well. When John King lobbed him a softball to open the debate the other day, Newt crushed a bases-loaded grand slam home run. He denounced the media for digging around in his failed marriage. The audience stood and applauded.
I don't think they were applauding his adultery, but rather the fact that voters had heard enough about that issue and Gingrich was bringing out the "Angry Newt" that is so entertaining to voters.
This man - who was down and out of the race after his Greek cruise with Callista last summer - is now poised in prime position to win the GOP Nomination. Since 1980, every winner of the South Carolina GOP Primary has gone on to be the party nominee. Mitt Romney desperately needs Gingrich to self-destruct in Florida, because a Gingrich win there will only accelerate his eventual victory.
The problem with Romney is that he is unloved by Conservatives who don't trust his former liberal rantings while serving as Governor of Massachusetts. Newt Gingrich, on the other hand, is not the GOP dream candidate by any means. Like I said in a blog post the other day, Newt Gingrich is a prick. He has a haters heart. He is mean-spirited and ill-tempered. He has explosive diva-like tantrums. Not exactly what you look for in your party flag-bearer.
However, Newt has a contempt for Barack Obama that you can almost taste. It reflects deep yearnings by party faithful to destroy Obama and remove all his conspirators from Washington. This is what drives voters to Newt. He hates Obama as much as they do.
Certainly, making Newt Gingrich the GOP nominee is like striking a deal with the devil.
But if the prize is an Obama-free America, then GOP primary voters seem to be willing to pay that price.