Second, Gingrich, now in third place in the Republican race nationally, benefits from being seen on friendly terms with the frontrunner Cain. At the end of the debate, Cain made a joke about the possibility of Gingrich being on a Cain ticket. For Gingrich, it doesn’t matter how unlikely such a scenario is. Cain enjoys the goodwill of a lot of Republican voters, and it can’t hurt Gingrich if some of that goodwill is now reflected on him after a friendly and mutually-admiring debate in Texas.

Third, and most important, Gingrich could gain support in the future by moving closer to Cain now. At the moment, Cain has the very dedicated support of many conservative Republicans. But after the rise and fall of Michele Bachmann and Rick Perry, many Republican insiders do not expect Cain to go the distance for the Republican nomination. If Cain were to fade, it’s not a bad thing for Gingrich if Cain’s supporters think of Gingrich fondly. Should they find themselves looking for a new candidate to support, they might well turn to the former Speaker, who for many was their second choice all along. At that moment, Gingrich could become the main challenger to frontrunner Mitt Romney.