Ruth Dudley Edwards: Newt is more of a one-night-stand man than a keeper
The election is there for the Republicans to win if only they could find a candidate, writes Ruth Dudley Edwards
US poll averages last Friday showed 51 per cent disapproving of the way President Obama was doing his job, with 73.3 per cent believing the country was on the wrong track. If only they could find a candidate, the 2012 election is there for the Republicans to win. But after months of cut-throat competition, who's to be the standard-bearer?
Republicans have watched despairingly as their favourites fell to earth. Sarah Palin ruled herself out; Michele Bachmann, after poor debating performances, is down to 5 per cent; after humiliating himself with his 'oops' moment during a TV debate when he forgot the name of one of the departments he intended to abolish, Rick Perry flounders at 7 per cent; and having been credibly accused of a 13-year-affair, Hermann Cain slumped to 12.5 per cent. Maverick Ron Paul, the principled, libertarian inspiration of the Tea Partiers, is hanging in there with 10 per cent, but his isolationist foreign policy frightens many and most think 76 too old for the most high-profile and difficult job in the world.
As ever, there's Mitt Romney, who, despite having the looks, the campaign team, the war chest and the stable family life of an ideal candidate, bores his party and is scoring only 21 per cent. For the Republicans are in love yet again with an outsider: the new Messiah is Newt Gingrich, who has roared ahead to 33 per cent on the back of debating triumphs.