Via Matt Lewis. In fairness, the dog story is just one part of this lowlight reel of some of Romney’s dumber moments from the trail, but the clip’s revealing in how it shows Gingrich still relying heavily on his debate performances as a selling point. The message here, implicitly, is “Mitt could self-destruct in front of a mic in the general but I won’t.” Which is mighty ironic given that (a) none of these allegedly damaging gaffes dissuaded voters in Iowa or New Hampshire, (b) Gingrich himself is infamously prone to self-destructive stumbles, as his “right-wing social engineering” comment over the summer proved, and (c) unlike Newt, Romney hasn’t said anything so toxic that Rush Limbaugh felt moved to compare him to Elizabeth Warren because of it. (Note too that the clip begins with Romney’s line about how he likes being able to fire people, which even Gingrich himself conceded was taken out of context.) Beyond all that, I’m not sure why anyone thinks the presidential debates in the fall are likely to be game-changers. They almost never are — I honestly can’t remember a single moment from Obama’s debates with McCain — and in any case, Romney being Romney, he’ll prepare for them hyper-exhaustively. Look on the bright side: This October, at least you won’t have to worry about the nominee ripping on corporate “looters” or parasites or whatever Newt’s current anti-Bain soundbite is. Said one “longtime ally” of Gingrich today to National Journal, “The sense is, he’s just lashing out. His friends aren’t trying to talk him off the ledge.”

Two clips here, one of the lowlight reel and the other of a second new Gingrich ad slamming Romney on abortion. (Romney’s campaign, which is preparing to hammer Newt in South Carolina too, is ready with a counter to this attack.) Question: Am I to assume from the relative silence lately about RomneyCare that the Republican field has thrown in the towel on attacking the mandate? The abortion ad touches on it, but it’s incidental to the main argument. Perhaps the new, Romney-fying GOP has already decided that we’re better off not speaking of past unpleasantness. On to the next success.