Touching and obviously heartfelt, yet naturally processed by politicos as a potential gamechanging “Hillary moment” for Gingrich on the eve of a big vote. I doubt it’ll change much. Hillary had to beat one guy in New Hampshire when she welled up; Newt has to beat four, all of whom have been trending upwards in the polls while he sinks. He needs more than a sweet, humanizing interlude to rally the base.

Maybe he needs … this:

Gingrich, speaking Wednesday during a conference call with conservative voters hosted by Ralph Reed’s Faith and Freedom Coalition, was asked by one of the attendees whether he would consider Palin as a running mate.

“She is certainly one of the people you would look at. I am a great admirer of hers and she was a remarkable reform governor of Alaska, she’s somebody who I think brings a great deal to the possibility of helping in government and that would be one of the possibilities,” Gingrich said, according to Right Wing Watch…

“There are also some very important Cabinet positions that she could fill very, very well,” Gingrich said. “I can’t imagine anybody who would do a better job of driving us to an energy solution than Gov. Palin, for example. Tell her that she would certainly be on the list of one of the people we would consider.”

She nearly rescued one big-government conservative’s failing candidacy three years ago. Second time’s the charm?

Your amazing stat of the day comes courtesy of CNN, which reports that nearly half of all political ads that ran in Iowa this month were attacks on Gingrich. Exit quotation: “Politics has become a really nasty, vicious, negative business and I think it’s disgusting and I think it’s dishonest.”

Update: Really? Tweaking the guy for getting choked up about his dead mother?

Here in Merrimack, Romney started talking about his parents and what they meant to him, and how they taught him to love America — and said, “No, no, I won’t cry.”

Update: Actually, without more context, it’s hard to tell if Romney was aiming that at Gingrich. Goofing on a guy for tearing up about his mom is in poor enough taste that I’d guess Romney would resist for strategic reasons even if he was tempted to do it. It may be that he’s been so busy on the trail today that he hasn’t even heard yet about what happened to Newt. Maybe he was just making a joke about how reminiscing about mom and dad is apt to make anyone a little misty. Maybe?

Update: To put it another way, why would a guy as famously, robotically on-message as Romney risk generating a sympathy vote for Gingrich at the last minute by goofing on him for crying? Every move he makes seems carefully plotted to maximize his advantage. He might be this nasty in private, but in public? Four days before the big vote? It would be a catastrophic, uncharacteristic lapse in his usual M.O.

Update: Turns out Romney didn’t bring up crying, a questioner did. And even when he replied, he was careful to say there’s nothing wrong with it:

The context of the Romney comment came, amid his discussion of his parents, with a voter saying, “Don’t cry.” Romney repeated it, saying, “No, no, I won’t cry,” and then followed up with, “There’s no harm in that.” Romney’s camp argues strenuously that he was not in any way tweaking Gingrich, and that he made that clear.

This guy’s not going to take needless risks.

Update: Here’s the clip.