How to Outlast your Opponent in a Campaign

Gang bang on Newt. And then what?

It was predictable. It is only just beginning. It won’t end for a while. At least not until Mr. Gingrich has been driven back down to single digits. Freddie Mac. Fannie Mae. Lucrative fees. (millions, not hundreds of thousands) Ethanol. More fees to defend the indefensible. The Tiffany’s Account. The personal history. The marriages. Dede Scozzafava. Support for Romneycare. The ideological flexibility—dalliances with Nancy Pelosi, the global warming crowd, Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton and more. And it is not just the New York Times. Ann Coulter yesterday joined the gang bang. It won’t be long before those who are looking for a conservative alternative to Romney conclude that Newt’s barnacles are too big and too ugly and too revolting.

And then what?

Gingrich rose last week to become the flavor of the day for a couple reasons that go beyond his improved debate performances. Romney’s failure to gain traction among center-right primary voters, and Herman Cain’s 10 day diversion of his locomotive onto a side track that idled his train.

But the market for a conservative alternative to Romney is still there, and it will remain until Romney has enough delegates to win the nomination.

So now what?

The market is still there. It is still looking for an alternative. If Cain can restart that engine he still has a chance. And if not Cain, there is still room for somebody. Because the market is still there. And the market has not yet begun to vote.

There is a lesson in this for all candidates running for office. Actually several. Your past matters. Be prepared to deal with it because when you become worthy of attention it will get attention. (Gingrich) When your moment in the sun comes, everything will change, and you had best be prepared to deal with it forthrightly and decisively (Cain). Debates don’t always win a campaign, but a poor performance can kill one (Perry). You may not be the first choice of your party’s natural base, but if you can remain steady, survive your past, be quick on your feet and outlive those who have even bigger flaws than you, well…you too can be the unlikely winner of an election no one at the outset thought you could win. (see Obama…and Bill Clinton…and maybe even President Romney).

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