I think Newt Gingrich lost Florida during last night’s debate and, therefore, his best chance to win the GOP Presidential nomination.
After surging in the polls in the lead-up to his South Carolina win, Gingrich’s support in Florida began to decline by the middle of this week. He needed to shine in last night’s debate to make up for the fact he and his super PAC allies have a smaller ad budget than Romney.
Unfortunately for Newt, he was flat last night. The energy he had in the final debate before the South Carolina primary was absent from the last two debates.
I think his biggest early misstep was when flubbed what I think should have been an easy attack on Romney’s blatant immigration flip-flop (nutshell: Romney’s language about immigration is much harsher when he’s not standing in front of Hispanic Americans like he was last night. I’m not a great verbal arguer, but I shouted a much more coherent response at the TV last night than Newt did from the stage). Gingrich tried to make the case, but unless you’d actually seen some of the debates from last autumn, I don’t think it was clear just how blatantly Romney was contradicting himself last night.
The nail in Newt’s coffin in my opinion was when he threw his now predictable “that’s a stupid question” punch at debate moderator Wolf Blitzer. Wolf was ready and punched back. Newt was thrown off-balance, so instead of being coming off as an alpha male smacking down a wuss, Newt came off as brittle and defensive.
One of Newt’s favorite sales pitches is that he insists he’d shred Obama during debates. It has always been a silly assertion. After last night, it’s “Black Knight“-absurd. After you very publicly lose verbal battles to a not-very-good debater Mitt Romney and and not-very-tough moderator Wolf Blitzer, you can’t claim to be a great debater.