As the Republican right wing activists continue their search for anybody-but-Romney, they have now landed on Newt Gingrich. The Republican campaign so far has been ideal for Gingrich since it has been an endless parade of debates, and Gingrich's main strength is his ability to speak with apparent authority and expertise.
But, there is so much more needed from a president, and from a presidential candidate, than good communication skills.
If the Clinton presidency taught us anything, it is that character counts. And Gingrich's character is highly suspect.
One thing the Obama/McCain campaign taught us is that managing a campaign organization matters. It matters as to how well the campaign progresses, and it shows something about how the candidate will run the executive branch when elected. And, by all accounts, management and organizational skills are pretty low on Gingrich's talent list.
Ultimately, though, it comes down to a question of what the campaign in 2012 will be about. If the campaign ends up being a referendum on Obama's performance in the White House, Obama loses. But, if it becomes about the Republican challenger, then Obama wins. And if Gingrich runs, the vast majority of the campaign will be about Gingrich: his character, his opportunism, his insincerity, his lack of moral substance, his inevitably exaggerated claims of importance, his predictably ideologically extreme and unrealistic proposals, etc. etc. etc. I believe Gingrich is much like Trump in that they are both narcissistic megalomaniacs too filled with their own grandiosity to be anything but off-putting to a very large majority of voters.
So, ultimately, I think it will come down to Romney, although I really do hope that Hunstsman can do well enough in New Hampshire that he can ultimately take the nomination. Then I think we would have a real campaign between two substantive candidates who are not extremists.
And, beyond that, I have real hopes that Americans Elect can offer a third party centrist candidate that can take the election away from the extremist wings of each party and give the country a new way of getting good candidates on the ballots of all the states.