Newt Gingrich Upgraded to Buy From Hold

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Newt Gingrich emerged from Tuesday's fiery Republican debates as the voice of reason among a group of frantic GOPers. His easygoing behavior could spur the former House speaker's run at the rotating No. 2 spot in primary polls.

Gingrich proved again that he understands the legislative process more fully than any of the other candidates, and he used his weighty House experience to rise above petty eruptions that characterized the event.
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich could be poised to rise.

"Wait for it ... the Gingrich debate scold!" Politico reporter Maggie Haberman tweeted Tuesday night.

It's true that Gingrich has consistently grabbed a moment at each debate to reprimand the press, political parties or other candidates and to then spin that scorn into a message about President Obama's poor leadership. That moment looked especially appealing on Tuesday.

"Now, the idea that you have a bunch of historically illiterate politicians who have no sophistication about national security trying to make a numerical decision about the size of the defense budget tells you everything you need to know about the bankruptcy of the current elite in this country in both parties," Gingrich said Tuesday at the debate.

"I thought Newt Gingrich won because he was kind of above it all -- all the bickering and attacking and the infighting," Tim Callanan, Berkeley County, S.C., Republican Party chairman, told TheStreet. "Regardless of that, he was extremely effective in what he said."

A favorable debate performance likely means that Gingrich will nab percentage points in GOP primary polls, but that boost suggests he needs to pinch them from another candidate. This has been the case throughout the primary season, in which a rising candidate (like Herman Cain) grasps a favorable message (like the "9-9-9" plan) that attracts voters from a floundering candidate (like Rick Perry).

Gingrich probably won't take votes away from Mitt Romney as the former Massachusetts governor's poll numbers have been incredibly consistent -- that's to say they've been flat.

"They're Republicans still looking for a second choice; they're still looking for a first choice," TheStreet contributor Mallory Factor said. "Newt is extremely smart, extraordinarily knowledgeable, but has a little bit of baggage ... Is the Republican electorate willing to overlook it?"

"Herman Cain will have to have a strong, incredible defense of his tax plan Wednesday ... but if not, I think you have to keep an eye on Newt Gingrich," Robert Uithoven, Nevada political consultant, told TheStreet.

Sarah Palin went so far as to say Tuesday on Fox News that she felt Gingrich would become the frontrunner. The former Alaska governor's approving comments came as a number of key Tea Party leaders have endorsed Gingrich, even though conventional wisdom argued that the former speaker's campaign momentum had stalled.

"He's kind of seen it all before in this political game," Palin said.

-- Written by Joe Deaux in New York.

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