At about the time Rick Perry was fishing for the final item in a sequence of three, Newt Gingrich suddenly grew even more statesman-like. Against the blank backdrop of Perry’s poor performance, Gingrich’s brilliance blazed brighter.

At least, that’s what the Gingrich supporters behind a new super PAC in support of the former Speaker speculate:

Charlie Smith, a former College Republicans chairman, is heading it up and made the case to us that discontent conservatives and disheartened Rick Perry supporters will start to turn toward Gingrich.

“If Rick Perry gave that performance as the Republican nominee, they wouldn’t have to count the ballots; it would be over on the spot,” Smith said. “Compare that to Newt, who showed the kind of intellect that conservatives have long known and respected. That contrast will absolutely lead to more support for Newt.”

Gingrich has repeatedly proved his policy prowess — both in practice and in preaching — and this PAC aims to capitalize on that. Appropriately called “Solutions 2012,” the PAC’s pitch emphasizes that “substance matters.”

What’s particularly appealing about Gingrich is that, with him, substance also receives slick packaging in the form of elegant and coherent explanations.

Still, as Politico’s Alexander Burns points out, just because the super PAC exists doesn’t mean donors will give to it. The infrastructure should help — but doesn’t guarantee a gain in momentum for Gingrich.

Nevertheless, Gingrich was widely described as the winner of last night’s debate — and he’s the only candidate who has kept Reagan’s 11th Commandment through the entire primary season. Except for his scandal-plagued past — and his unfortunate physical resemblance to every other white-haired conservative candidate who never excited independents — he has nothing to keep him from the nomination. Meantime, he offers a proven track record and consistent collegial tack toward the primaries. The media’s dislike for him — and his apparent intention to stoke that disdain — wouldn’t do much to help him in the general, but something tells me he’d be able to soften up. And he might be the only candidate Obama couldn’t B.S. in a debate. As “they” have been saying, if ever he was to have a moment, this is it.