Editorial: GOP nomination race leaves spot up for grabs

Esteban Diaz | Editorial Cartoonist
Esteban Diaz | Editorial Cartoonist

All bets are off in this year’s GOP nomination because of the lack of viable candidates.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry seemed promising until he embarrassed himself during several debates and lost the confidence of voters in the polls.

Businessman Herman Cain briefly surged ahead, then suddenly multiple women came forward with allegations of harassment. According to the Associated Press, Cain told his aides he is considering dropping his bid after this week.

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney has received high votes of confidence from straw polls, though Democrats have begun to highlight changed positions in an effort to discredit his campaign.

So far the real surprise is the rise of former House speaker Newt Gingrich in the polls.

Parodied on Saturday Night Live as the candidate who didn’t seem to actually want to run for president, Gingrich seems to have found his stride late in the nomination process. His decision to fully engage in the nomination race seems to be marked by his foray into criticisms of other candidates. A noticeable deviation from a campaign strategy that focused solely on President Barack Obama, Gingrich also criticized Romney’s flexible positions in a radio interview in South Carolina.

As CNN reports in “Why Gingrich’s N.H. endorsement is a bigger deal than it seems,” Gingrich received the endorsement of the New Hampshire Union Leader, and enviable accolade as it confers prestige and continued support from a stolidly conservative entity.

According to CNN, Sen. John McCain was only able to sustain his campaign in 2008 because the newspaper’s endorsement gave credibility and life back to a struggling bid.

The paper reportedly chose Gingrich over Romney due to his relative authenticity. The Union Leader did not mention Romney by name, but made it clear it was referring to the New Hampshire resident in the piece when the editorial board said, “We would rather back someone with whom we may sometimes disagree than one who tells us what he thinks we want to hear.” The author of the editorial and publisher of the paper confirmed to Fox News that the slight was directed at Romney.

Gingrich has definite hurdles to overcome. While he has tried to support his stance on immigration by reminding Republicans that they claim to be the family party, his own home life has come under fire following two divorces and Gingrich’s admission of infidelity.

Gingrich, however, is counting on an approach that presents him as the candidate most likely to defeat Obama. Gingrich has gone on record saying he isn’t perfect, but that he is “a lot more conservative than Mitt Romney and a lot more electable than anybody else.”

The media is now leaning toward headlines that suggest the GOP nomination has become a two-man race, but we believe the drama is not over yet.

Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., Perry and Cain all once experienced exhilarating rises in the polls followed by disappointing drops. One step forward, two steps back, the saying goes.

While Gingrich may have picked up an endorsement or two as Romney’s armor starts to chink, the race is far from decided. Come to think of it, the former governor of Utah Jon Huntsman Jr., and Sen. Rick Santorum still have their 15 minutes to claim at the head of the race.