STAGE IS SET FOR FASCINATING FINAL RUN TO IOWA, NEW HAMPSHIRE

To people who work in politics, the race for the Republican nomination for president has been a Field of Dreams. Not unlike the movie, the scene is Iowa and the guy walking out of the cornfield from seemingly nowhere is Newt Gingrich. His amazing ride to the top of the polls in Iowa, South Carolina and Florida (where he is running away), will debated, studied and analyzed for years to come.

To The Shad, Gingrich’s rise in the polls is fairly simple—he’s a great debater. The former Republican speaker of the house still comes off as condescending and mean-spirited but his movement among likely Republicans voters coincides with the number of strong debate performance. Of course, the implosion of Herman Cain and seemingly endless manifestation of Rick Perry’s absolute cluelessness don’t hurt (his TV ad linking gays in the military to the constitutional prohibition on school sponsored prayer is the latest).

Gingrich has trouble in his own ranks. Tellingly, it’s from former and current elected officials who lived through Gingrich’s reign as speaker. Susan Molinari and Peter King are just two who are increasingly vocal about their disdain for Gingrich. Meanwhile, the guy who started the failed coup against Gingrich as speaker, Republican Sen. Lindsay Graham, now says Gingrich is a changed man. Yeah, right.

Gingrich seems to many voters to be the sharpest contrast to President Obama. But he comes with baggage too. He cheated on two of his three wives, the second while he was pursuing Bill Clinton’s impeachment for lying about an affair. He once backed an individual mandate for health insurance—anathema to conservative voters. He made $1.6 million from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the mortgage giants who Gingrich has since used as a punching bag. Then there is the loony lunar idea of colonizing the moon.

Mitt Romney’s central casting, take-no-chances, tell-them-what-they-want-to-hear campaign has to rethink its approach down the homestretch. His rivals are exploiting his multiple flip-flops, painting him as a candidate who has no core principles. Romney is even losing ground in his backyard—New Hampshire—and that’s dangerous.

Romney’s awkward-to-watch interview on FOX News should make his campaign pause. If you can’t handle FOX, how are you going to handle a debate with President Obama on stage? Meanwhile, Obama dodged a bullet in Saturday’s debate when he reverted to the schoolyard taunt, “Wanna make a bet?” Most people who would challenge a bet would do so with a $100 amount or so. Romney’s bet offer was for $10,000. His only saving grace was that he made the challenge to the aforementioned Rick Perry. Perry responded with, “I’m not in the betting business.” He should have said, “That might be pocket change to you Mitt, but it’s not to folks in Iowa.”

One last debate before Iowa, Thursday night, on FOX.