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Posted by on Dec 16, 2011 in Politics | 2 comments

Quote of the Day: The Iowa Debate and the Last Gingrich Standing

Our political Quote of the Day comes from Democratic strategist Paul Begala, who steps back and looks at last night’s debate and concludes — as many have concluded — that Newt Gingrich is likely to emerge out of it undamaged, undiminished in the GOP race:

As Gingrich roared back, Romney faded. Romney doesn’t need to win Iowa, so perhaps he’s writing it off. But then why is he spending time and money there? It has to be enormously frustrating for Mitt. He has been running almost nonstop for four years, spent untold millions, given hundreds of speeches, run ads, made Web videos, attended town-hall meetings and editorial boards and interest group meetings—and he’s gone from 25 percent in Iowa in 2007 to 17 percent today. Face it, Mitt: if you were the president of one of those companies you bought, you’d have laid yourself off by now.

This is the last scheduled debate before the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary. From here on in it’s the ad wars and ground wars. Romney and Perry and Paul will hammer Gingrich in what I hope will be brutal attack ads, while Bachmann and Santorum and Paul (again) will use their organizations to undermine Newt. It is certain to have an effect.

But it is telling that the man who dispatched Rick Perry with such skill and strength has chosen to shrink from confronting a doughy 68-year-old grandfather. He could take lessons in toughness from Bachmann.

I have started to conclude that looking at the polls, Gingrich’s long experience in receiving attacks and most assuredly giving them, and the deep distrust many GOPers have of Romney and particularly anyone who might possibly “go moderate,” Gingrich will wind up with the nomination — and Democrats who start popping champagne might not be so self-assured no matter what the current polls say. Newt will get $20 milllion in funds from a backer now. The ad onslaught has started on him; it hasn’t yet started on Romney and his competition.

UPDATE: This is not to say that Gingrich didn’t have a bad moment as I noted based on reports last night. And here it is:

Here’s another reason why I think critics underestimate Gingrich’s abilities: he is fascinating to watch on TV.