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Gingrich sees himself as man of substance
Polls show a surge to catch up to Romney
He said his response to conservatives who say Iran’s acquisition of nuclear weapons would pose little threat to the U.S. or Israel, since an attack on either would only ensure withering retaliation, was: “We disagree about Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s rationality.”
The Iranian president has threatened the annihilation of Israel.
As for his startling leap in the polls, he said his “proposal for seven Lincoln-Douglas-style three-hour debates with Mr. Obama and a timekeeper but no moderator gets rave reviews. One pollster told me, ‘If you ask an audience who they want to see debate Obama, 80 to 90 percent pick Newt.’ “
That’s more than double the 12 percent Mr. Gingrich registered in the same poll only a month ago and puts him and the former Massachusetts governor in a statistical tie for first place in a crowded field of Republican hopefuls.
Elaborating on why he thinks he has recovered so strongly after the disastrous start of his campaign — when his longtime top advisers and aides quit in disgust, he said, “There is also a deep feeling that we have had three years of inexperienced amateurism [with Mr. Obama] and it simply doesn’t work.
“Another pollster told me when people learn what I accomplished in the 1990s, they shift toward support of me,” Mr. Gingrich said, alluding to having been widely credited after the 1994 elections with leading his party to a majority in both houses of Congress for the first time in 40 years.
Asked how he planned to get past the criticism about taking money from a gigantic mortgage lender while he was publicly criticizing its practices, he said, “The next few weeks I will continue the same focus on big solutions, positive ideas, and an appeal to people to be with me in profoundly changing Washington.”
But, he added, “I will not attack the other Republican candidates. I will follow Ronald Reagan’s ‘11th commandment’ on that score. The polls indicate people are actually turned off by candidates fighting each other.”
The uncertain, even chaotic nature of the run-up to the GOP nomination contests is exemplified by other national and statewide polls that have Mr. Gingrich running slightly behind Mr. Cain in some instances and Mr. Romney in others. Only in New Hampshire does Mr. Romney continue to maintain a lead of more than 20 points over his nearest competitor.
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About the Author
Chief political writer Ralph Z. Hallow served on the Chicago Tribune, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Washington Times editorial boards, was Ford Foundation Fellow in Urban Journalism at Northwestern University, resident at Columbia University Editorial-Page Editors Seminar and has filed from Berlin, Bonn, London, Paris, Geneva, Vienna, Amman, Beirut, Cairo, Damascus, Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Belgrade, Bucharest, Panama and Guatemala.
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