As the Gingrich-Romney cage match rages on into the spring, it’ll be increasingly tempting to grope for parallels with the epic Clinton-Obama clash of 2008. Will the eventual winner be “battle-tested” like Obama, a stronger candidate for having survived a slugfest, as some optimistic Republicans have argued? If favorability ratings are any indication, the answer appears to be an emphatic “no.” The longer the race goes on, it seems, the more people realize that they can’t stand Mitt Romney—and they already knew they didn’t like Newt Gingrich. A new ABC News/Washington Post poll shows his favorability rating dropping to 31 percent—with 49 percent of Americans viewing him unfavorably—while 53 percent view President Obama favorably, up 5 points from a month ago. Gingrich isn’t exactly charming the masses, either; 51 percent view him unfavorably, and his favorable numbers are dropping. All of which points to a fundamental difference between the Obama vs. Clinton and Gingrich vs. Romney showdowns. Four years ago, Democrats had two candidates whom the vast majority liked and admired—and if their favorite lost, very few were going to (and did) sit out the general election. This time, Republicans are picking between two guys who may soon rival Casey Anthony and Drew Peterson in the popularity department.
So They Say
"It's not my responsibility as a candidate to correct everybody who makes a statement that I disagree with.”
—Rick Santorum, deflecting criticism after he failed to set straight a woman who called Obama an “avowed Muslim” at an event in Lady Lake, Florida.
Daily Meme: Unsolicited State of the Union Advice
- Michael Tomasky, Daily Beast: Come out swinging as the middle-class champion, and make sure you infuriate Eric Cantor.
- Politico: Lay out a clear second-term agenda.
- George E. Condon Jr., National Journal: Ignore Congress, eschew policy lists, talk to the people.
- Miami Herald: Roll out a deficit-reduction plan.
- Washington Times: Admit “this country is flat broke,” and “promise government will do less. That would create a truly memorable moment.”
- Andrew Sullivan: Champion tax reform.
- Eliot Spitzer: Keep it short. Ten minutes max.
- Mitt Romney: "If I were speaking to Congress tonight, I'd note that it's now been one thousand days since the Senate last passed a budget.”
What We're Writing
- Robert Kuttner believes Romney’s “scarlet tax return” gives Obama the ideal opportunity to champion a progressive tax code.
- Jamelle Bouie analyzes Romney’s sense of entitlement.
What We're Reading
- Gingrich: If debate audiences have to stay mum, I will too.
- Super Newt: Sheldon Adelson chips in another $5 million to the pro-Gingrich super PAC Winning our Future.
- Robert Reich: What does Adelson get for his money?
- Is Newt the new Nixon?
- In Virginia’s Senate race, Tim Kaine takes a fundraising lead over George Allen.
- Romney crams three lies into one sentence.