“Newt Gingrich has taken the lead in PPP’s newest poll of Iowa Republican caucus voters with 27% to 18% for Ron Paul, 16% for Mitt Romney, 13% for Michele Bachmann, 9% for Rick Perry, 6% for Rick Santorum, 4% for Jon Huntsman, and 1% for Gary Johnson…

“Gingrich’s rise to the top is being fueled by strong support from seniors and the Tea Party. With voters over 65 he’s at 37% leading Romney’s 18% and Paul’s 11% by 19 and 26 points respectively. With Tea Party voters Gingrich is at 35% with Bachmann actually coming in at second with 23%, Paul in third at 14%, and Romney all the way back at just 4%…

“Electability is not usually a trait you would associate with Newt Gingrich but 33% of Republicans think he would be the candidate with the best chance to defeat Barack Obama with Mitt Romney at 23% and no one else hitting double digits. 57% of voters say they’re most concerned with a candidate’s stand on the issues to 34% who are most concerned about getting the candidate who can beat Obama. Paul actually leads Gingrich 23-20 with voters who care most about a candidate’s stances. But Gingrich has the overall lead because he’s at 39% with those most concerned about electability to 18% for Romney and only 11% for Paul…

“One reason Gingrich is moving ahead of Romney in Iowa? 42% of voters say they would have major concerns about a candidate who supported an individual mandate for health care to just 34% who say they’d have major concerns about a candidate who cheated on his spouse.”

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“Democrats who have largely ignored the GOP field of presidential candidates aside from Mitt Romney have turned their fire on Newt Gingrich, the new front-runner for the Republican nomination.

“Vice President Biden took a shot at Gingrich on Sunday, telling Turkey’s prime minister he didn’t want to ‘sound like Newt Gingrich’ by inflating his own self-importance. President Obama campaign strategist David Axelrod went after the former Speaker on Monday, calling him ‘the godfather of gridlock.’…

“Democrats, meanwhile, have suggested Obama would have a much easier time defeating Gingrich than Romney.

“‘He would be the best thing to happen to Democrats since Barry Goldwater,’ Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) said last week. Goldwater is credited with reviving Republican conservatism in the 1960s, but lost in a landslide presidential election to Democrat Lyndon Johnson in 1964.”

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“But in the face of Gingrich’s surge in the polls, most [Republican] Gingrich critics [on Capitol Hill] are keeping it to themselves. Part of it is because, recognizing that Gingrich is connecting with the GOP base better than anyone in the field, they have little desire to get cross-wise with their own party. Put more bluntly, there is a dawning realization they might have to make peace with Newt the nominee…

“Even among confirmed Gingrich skeptics, there is also a sort of fellow pol’s respect for how the former speaker, abandoned by his consultants and campaign team, has clawed his way back into contention. This is all bad news for Mitt Romney, who had hoped these anti-character witnesses would take down his latest rival.

“Mixed in with the sound of silence, too, is some powerful wishful thinking: Maybe Newt’s changed. Some of his old colleagues are willing to be convinced that Gingrich is not the same man whose own Republican lieutenants tried to frag him in 1997, little more than two years after he led them to their first House majority in 40 years…

“‘[T]hey were kind of excited [about his comeback],’ said Cole, a Ph.D. historian. ‘But now it’s like Napoleon showing up for the 100 days. We all may follow him into battle again — and you just hope it’s not Waterloo.'”

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“Picking a candidate in cases like this for me always starts out with the same question: Who’s the most conservative candidate that can be elected?

“I’ve decided that candidate is Newt Gingrich. To begin with, he’s a conservative and Romney’s a right-of-center moderate.

“I also believe Newt’s more electable than Romney. That’s not because he polls better than Romney against Obama right now — although he does according to Rasmussen. It’s because Mitt Romney is a weak, bland, moderate candidate who inspires no passion and who seems to have no core convictions whatsoever. These are features, not bugs to establishment Republicans, but conservatives have fought too long and too hard to keep embracing guys like Romney just because a bunch of Republican careerists in D.C. like him or because it’s “his turn.” Is it too much to ask that the conservatives who provide the vast majority of energy, money, and the ideas in the GOP have one of our own as the nominee?…

“Make no mistake about it, folks, the next year is going to be tough on conservatives. Barack Obama has been one of the worst Presidents in American history, but he’s not just going to roll over and hand the presidency to the GOP. Since he has almost nothing positive to campaign on, he’s going to run an extremely negative campaign and the mainstream media will do everything in its power to help him. The attacks on the GOP nominee are going to come fast and furious for the better part of a year. I’ll support whoever the nominee is, but I would feel good about fighting on Newt Gingrich’s behalf for a year. I could feel good about telling people that Newt Gingrich would be a competent President who would make this a better country. I could feel good about the idea of having Newt Gingrich as our President.”

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Via Mediaite.

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