Bachmann 2008: You know who's pretty amazing? Newt Gingrich

Via Greg Hengler. This is really just standard treacly intro flattery before a speech, but the Newt fans have been clamoring for it all day — and I don’t blame them. Curiously, last night we endured yet another debate in which Bachmann ended up throwing roundhouses at Mitt Romney’s main competition so that he didn’t have to. Pawlenty, Perry, Cain, and now Gingrich have all taken heavy shots from her in front of the cameras, yet Mitt himself rarely draws anything harsher than the usual boilerplate about mandates which everyone already knows. And even when she lobs that at him, she’s careful to include Gingrich in the criticism, which has the effect of mitigating it as a major liability for Romney. Today, when reporters asked her whether Gingrich might have condescended to her last night because of sexism, she pointedly refused to say no. That’s stupid, as Gingrich of course is known for condescending to everyone, but the caucuses are just 18 days away so I guess she’s going for the throat. I sure hope Team Mitt appreciates everything she’s done on their behalf.

Fortunately, they do:

There’s no doubt Bachmann got under Gingrich’s skin; his face told that story. Even after a clearly irritated Gingrich began a response with, “Sometimes Congressman Bachmann doesn’t get her facts very accurate,” Bachmann was at him again, refusing to back down.

After the debate, Bachmann’s spokeswoman, Alice Stewart, didn’t back down either. “The truth hurts,” Stewart said. “She went up there and shone a light on his record, and he obviously doesn’t like that.”

Team Romney did like it. And afterward, Romney aides were happy to put in a good word for the congresswoman from Minnesota. “Michele Bachmann is good,” Stevens volunteered. “She is good. She’s cogent, she’s smart, unflappable — she must have been a heck of a lawyer. Very, very good. Very strong.” The message to Bachmann: Keep at it.

Very good, very strong. I still don’t buy the theory that she’s angling to be his VP, though. There are stronger candidates and Bachmann surely knows it; even if Romney was intent on picking a woman, he could go with Nikki Haley and get a little regional (and racial) diversity and some executive experience on the ticket. My theory’s always been that Bachmann’s trying to maneuver him into a two-person race on the assumption that Republicans, when forced to choose, will choose Not Romney no matter who Not Romney happens to be. That assumption is wildly incorrect — his greater electability would draw undecideds and his money and organization would give him the edge in close primaries — but ending up as the last person standing between him and the nomination would boost her cred among tea partiers further and give her more stature inside the party. All she needs to do is win Iowa and then figure out a way to win South Carolina. Which explains why she’s spreading rumors there that Gingrich is paying off tea partiers.