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Posted: December 13, 2011 2:08 p.m.
Updated: December 14, 2011 5:00 a.m.

Of all the presidential candidates, nobody was more a “dead man walking” than Newt Gingrich, the former U.S. House Speaker whose staff deserted him early in the campaign and who was left for dead by voters and the media. But he has been revived in the turbulent Republican race for the White House nomination and polls now show him leading his rivals in Iowa and South Carolina, and even in New Hampshire, where Mitt Romney is almost a neighbor. Ironically, it is Gingrich’s ability to stand up and take the heat for his past conduct that is helping fuel his resurgence.

A recent news story spotlighted an incident in which Gingrich showed up at his campaign headquarters earlier in the year and said, “Guys, we’re going to have to answer all the questions.” And there were indeed lots of them, many revolving around his own personal conduct, including the fact that he acknowledges having had an extramarital affair and the fact that he’s now married to wife number three. A few years ago, that would have disqualified him among many of the conservatives in early key states, but polls show people are more forgiving now of human foibles and focusing instead on the candidates’ ability to run the country.

Gingrich has been remarkably available to the press, and reports now indicate he will employ a campaign bus, sort of a re-invention of John McCain’s “Straight Talk Express,” which paid big dividends for him, especially in his 2000 GOP campaign against George Bush. We should point out, however, that he did not win that race. But in any event, Gingrich seems to have moved past many of his problems, and even serious critics acknowledge that he well might be the brightest candidate in the GOP field. Whether or not he can ultimately beat President Obama is the big question, of course, and as the campaign wears on, that question will become more and more important to Republican voters.


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