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“Hot” Newt v. “Cool” Mitt

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My new column deals wit the essential difference between Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney, which, as Yuval Levin said on my radio show yesterday, is one of temperament. Gingrich is running as the combative, passionate “Let’s do seven Lincoln-Douglas debates” insurgent. Romney is running as the antithesis of the feckless, incompetent Obama, the “character, capacity and the Constitution” candidate who can turn around a country on the brink of terrible error.

This morning’s headlines bear out this significant difference between the two leading candidates who, on most of the issues, are not saying very different things. Newt is being slammed for his comments on the work habits of poor children and his work on behalf of Freddie Mac. Romney is being slammed for his refusal to play Sunday Show Showdown with Beltway elites. (All the other candidates wish they were close enough to be worthy of being slammed.)

This weekend and the next two to four months will be all about this temperamental divide between Mitt and Newt, and which of the two men is better positioned to defeat the president in November.

I am leaving Norfolk now for a long drive to D.C. with Lee Habeeb, Salem’s VP for content and a strong Newt supporter. Lee believes the people want the GOP to bring the heat and thus that Gingrich will win this battle. I think the GOP wants more than anything else to beat Obama, and thus that Romney will triumph in the primaries. Both of us are appreciative of both candidates and don’t want the primaries to bleed the eventual nominee.

It is a four hour drive and and at least a four week and probably four month debate that is opening in earnest this weekend. Charles Krauthammer’s column also previews the arguments going on among Republicans across the country. Guy Benson sits in for me today as I host a screening of Act of Valor for Beltway chattering class types and he will almost certainly cover the same ground.

“Every conservative has thus to ask himself two questions,” Krauthammer writes. “Who is more likely to prevent that second [Obama] term? And who, if elected, is less likely to unpleasantly surprise?”

I care only about the first question. The second can wait.


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