Gingrich on Romney: "Why would you want to nominate the guy who lost to the guy who lost to Obama?"

A cute zinger which Romney will instantly destroy as soon as he reminds people of where this same logic would have gotten us in 1980.

“Why would you want to nominate the guy who lost to the guy who lost to Obama?” Newt asked a standing-room only crowd in Myrtle Beach, S.C…

Gingrich then challenged Romney to a 90-minute, one-on-one debate “anywhere in the state” of South Carolina on Friday night. He said they could sell $10 tickets and donate the proceeds to the charity of Romney’s choosing.

“There is zero chance he’ll take it,” Gingrich said. “He won’t debate and the reason is simple, he can’t defend his record as governor.”

He’s attacking Romney’s alleged electability here, which is fair enough, but I think it’s too late to change public perceptions about that now. Check out these three data points from today’s Fox News poll. Point one: Republican voters are, understandably, placing more weight on electability as the campaign heats up.

Point two: Not only are tea partiers willing to support a nominee who isn’t ideal, they’re considerably more likely to make that compromise than the average Republicans is:

That jibes with what Scott Rasmussen found when he surveyed Florida, where fully 94 percent of tea-party likely voters say they’ll back the eventual nominee versus just 77 percent of Republicans generally who say so. Job one for TPers this year is beating Obama, even if that means holding their noses and voting for you know who.

Finally, point three: The race for the nomination lurches onward but the race to convince voters who’s most electable is well and truly over.

Yeah, granted, Romney’s numbers there are a product of wins in Iowa and New Hampshire and would take a hit if Gingrich upsets him in South Carolina, but he’s almost certainly going to rebound in Florida 10 days later. He leads by 17 points there in the new ARG poll out today and has all the money and organization he needs to bury Gingrich. At worst he’ll go three for four in the early states, including a win in the last and largest of the four, which will leave him still looking like the most electable candidate in the field come Super Tuesday. In fact, go read this depressing Nate Silver number-crunch of Romney’s national numbers claiming that no one who’s had a lead this large has ever gone on to lose the nomination. Exit quotation: “Thus, although Mr. Romney would help himself to lock up the nomination with a win South Carolina, it is not clear how vulnerable he would be even with a loss there. Polls normally become considerably less volatile after New Hampshire as voter preferences become firmer, which means that Mr. Romney’s Republican rivals have already missed their best window to upend him.”

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