Second look at Newt?

It would be too much to call it a surge, but the former House speaker has quietly slipped into third place in several recent polls. A Public Policy Polling survey (PDF), for instance, shows Herman Cain with 30 percent, Mitt Romney with 22 percent, and Gingrich with 15 percent, edging out Rick Perry by a percentage point. And Gingrich’s favorable rating is up to 57 percent, with 30 percent holding an unfavorable view—this for a battle-scarred contender who the mainstream press has all but written off as a loser…

Of course, Gingrich may have benefited to some degree by being out of the harsh spotlight. His lack of discipline when he jumped into the race is what caused his implosion in the first place. It was the Meet the Press interview last May, when Gingrich dismissed a GOP plan to overhaul Medicare as “right-wing social engineering” and then seemed to reverse himself the next day, that started his downward slide from top-tier status. And then there is the personal baggage, as Galen points out: the extramarital affair when he was a congressman, the three marriages, the huge Tiffany’s bills he ran up for gifts to his wife Callista.

“If he ever popped up to No. 2 or No. 1,” Galen says, “all that stuff would just crush him.”