Manchester, NH—Everyone is making a big deal about how Newt Gingrich is going to unload on Mitt Romney during the two broadcast debates preceding the New Hampshire primary.
Gingrich, we are told, is a stalker preying on the GOP’s leading contender. And sometime Saturday night (ABC: 9 pm ET) or early Sunday morning (NBC: am ET) he will pounce on the flouncy front-runner and rip Romney to shreds.
Unfortunately, this theory presumes that Gingrich has no ego, that the former Speaker of the House would sacrifice himself and whatever political prospects he might retain to take down the most unappealing Republican presidential contender since, um, the Mitt Romney of 2008.
Gingrich is very mean. Gingrich is very mad at Mitt Romney. And Gingrich is very right that Romney is a liar who has used shadowy Super PACs to kneecap his rivals.
But Gingrich is not a suicide debater. He will jab Romney smart and hard, but don’t expect him to the bludgeon the front-runner.
That does not mean, however, that Gingrich will avoid all hyperbole.
The former Speaker might well have a hysterical moment this weekend.
But the target of his hysteria will not be Romney. It will be Ron Paul.
Gingrich and Paul have entered into one of the ugliest feuds ever to break out during the course of a presidential primary contest.
Some of it has to do with the fact that the former Speaker got whipped in Iowa not only by Romney and flavor-of-the-moment Rick Santorum but by Paul, a mere backbencher in the House of Representatives that Gingrich once ruled.
But there is more to the Gingrich-Paul bloodletting than an electoral rivalry.
This feud features pure, unadulterated disdain.
Gingrich started things off even before he finished far behind Paul in the Iowa Caucus voting. “The fact is his views on foreign policy I think are stunningly dangerous for the survival of the United States,” the former House Speaker said of Paul’s anti-war and anti-interventionist positions, which he suggested should disqualify Paul as a presidential contender.