Gingrich goes ... positive?

With polls showing a collapse in support and money reportedly dissipating from the campaign coffers, Newt Gingrich needs a gamechanger — badly.  Gingrich has decided that his ideas were his original gamechanger, and he’s going to start focusing on them rather than on attacking his competitors:

Newt Gingrich said he’s backing off his attacks on Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum moving forward, and made little mention of his opponents in his stump speech on Monday.

“I think my ideas are much bolder than Santorum or Romney’s,” Gingrich said when asked why he didn’t mention either during his speech. “I think my ideas are much clearer and more specific and I have to focus on communicating those ideas. The two periods I focused on communicating those ideas I ended up No. 1 in Gallup both times. And we’re going back to doing what we did that worked.”

“When we went back and analyzed it I do dramatically better when I focus on the nation’s problems and I focus on the nation’s solutions,” he said. “I don’t do nearly as well when I focus on my competitors. So we took the lesson that has worked twice in the last 3 months.”

That is an interesting shift in strategy, and one that could produce some positive results.  The key test will be on February 22nd, when the next debate takes place in Arizona six days before voters in that state and in Michigan vote in binding primaries.  If Gingrich can focus on just picking apart the economic plans from Rick Santorum and Mitt Romney without getting personal, he might recover some of his standing with conservatives who have shifted in large part to Santorum, and who have done so in large part because of the positive manner in which Santorum has campaigned.

The question will be whether that will make much of a difference at this point.  With Gingrich languishing in third place (or lower), the other two candidates probably won’t want to mix it up with him, and unless the attacks start to sting, probably will just re-emphasize how their plans work.  Romney and Santorum are much more likely to go after each other than with Gingrich, and Santorum has scored points on Romney in many of those exchanges in past debates.  Romney might just stick with his usual strategy to stay above the fray and focus on himself, ignoring any criticism from the candidates in an attempt to appear presidential.

Given the recent track of polling momentum, Gingrich will have to paint some very clear distinctions between his ideas and those of Romney and Santorum.  If he can manage to do that without making it look personal as he did in Florida and Nevada, he might at least stop the bleeding.

David Strom 12:41 PM on September 26, 2022