Newt Won’t Wilt

Jonathan Bernstein is skeptical of the Newt surge, noting correctly that we have already had a failed Bachmann surge, Perry surge and Cain surge.

Fair enough, but as I wrote in August when Perry was being hailed as the next big thing:

I am less sure than many observers that Rick Perry will sweep aside all the other Republican candidates and march triumphantly to a Presidential nomination. A national campaign is an inferno to which no state-level campaign compares, and many people who look composed and powerful in their own neighborhood wilt or burst into flames at the next level.

And wilt Perry did, as did Bachmann before him and Cain after him. None of them had been put under that much scrutiny and that much media glare before, and they weren’t ready for it.

Not so with Newt. He has been living under the klieg lights for decades, and in that sense can’t be lumped in with the prior surge-and-crash crowd. If he fails to get the nomination, it’s going to be due to his lack of a disciplined ground operation (especially in Iowa), not because he can’t stand the heat in the kitchen.

[Cross-posted at The Reality-Based Community]

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Keith Humphreys

Keith Humphreys is a professor of psychiatry at Stanford University. He served as a senior policy advisor at the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy from 2009 to 2010.