Newt the Debater

It is pretty amusing how so many Republicans (living in their bubble) seem to think Newt is the most electable because he will destroy Obama in the debates.  As Jonathan Bernstein points out, and Drum elaborates, this just isn’t so:

And here’s the part I think is right [Bernstein quote follows]:

What Monday demonstrated [] is that Newt’s reputation as a brilliant debater is actually a fraud. What Newt has done well isn’t debating the other candidates; what he’s done well is attacking the moderators, and it works especially well when there’s a partisan Republican audience ready to cheer any shots at the liberal media.That’s not going to happen in general election debates. More broadly, he’s quite good at using language designed to appeal especially well to Rush Limbaugh listeners: Chicago-style politics, Saul Alinsky, teleprompters, and more. Terrific, again, for provoking a big reaction from a partisan audience of intense, highly-informed conservatives. Utterly useless in general election debates.

Yep. Newt’s sneering, condescending tone is pitch perfect for the tea party crowd, but extremely off-putting for the less partisan folks who will determine November’s results. And without that, Newt’s got nothing. He doesn’t really do any better on substance than Romney or any of the others, and he certainly doesn’t have any native charm.

In fact, I read today that Newt said he will not participate in any future debates unless the audience can participate.  He clearly knows how his shtick works.  And this kind of demand just won’t fly in a general election debate given their long history of quiet audiences.

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About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State http://faculty.chass.ncsu.edu/shgreene

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