Newt Gingrich has always been a lightening rod for controversy. I really discounted him as a serious contender for the Republican nomination, until his standout performance in the South Carolina primaries last weekend. With 40.4% of the vote, he trounced party favorite, Mitt Romney. Love him or hate him, his campaign has finally attracted serious attention and the campaign contributions necessary to push the primary fight all the way to the Republican National Convention in August.
Maybe, we, as an electorate have matured enough to embrace a visionary candidate who has a less than perfect record. Certainly, it is a well known fact that Gingrich had the dubious distinction of being the first Speaker of the House found guilty of ethics violations in its 208 year history. He has been branded an “influence peddler” for his lobbying efforts on behalf of Freddie Mac by critics from every end of the political spectrum. The scandals surrounding his private life have often eclipsed his message and have hardly made him the ideal representative for the family values platform of the Republican Party. Somehow, though, he has defied the odds and remains Romney’s most serious opponent, despite his poor performance in the most recent debate, in the upcoming Florida primaries.
The consensus seems to be that his popularity stems from his refusal to shy away from controversial issues and his no holds barred debating style. According to a recent Rasmussen Poll, 68% of Republicans even think Gringrich is as ethical as other politicians. Though he may not ultimately win the nomination, he is a candidate that cannot be ignored.