Newt Gingrich thinks he's the only candidate in the GOP field who can stand up to Barack Obama in a debate. Now I'd LOVE to see Newt square up against the big O, to be sure. I think he'd absolutely skewer the incumbent President. But is Newt the ONLY man who's up to the job? And is that the ONE reason to select a candidate? I don't think so.
For all his intelligence and strength as a debater, he's not perfect. He often appears arrogant, condescending, and unlikeable. Obama, on the other hand, gets high marks for likeability (go figure!) despite the unpopularity of his policies and "ideas." Romney, on the other hand, scores fairly well in likeability.
Frankly, Newt brings far more political baggage with him as well, having been driven from office and proven himself as an establishment insider and opportunist. Further, he's been plagued by disorganization in his campaign. His top staffers defected last summer. He wasn't prepared to mount a defensive in Iowa--to the extent that he lost his cool and became, momentarily, an anti-capitalist! And he failed to even get on the ballot in his HOME STATE of Virginia! Is that the executive leadership that will contrast with the turmoil that is the Obama Administration? It's practically Obamaesque!
Since Newt compares himself, primarily, with Romney who he dubs the "Massachussets Moderate," let's take a look: As the front-runner with an arguably "moderate" record, Romney supported the healthcare mandate in his state. So did Newt, nationally. Romney eliminated his state's deficit spending--as did Newt in Washington. Kudos to both. Romney acknowledged some level of man-made global warming when it was politically expedient, but he never supported Cap and Trade. Newt cozied up with Nancy Pelosi to advance the curse. Romney supports civil unions for gay couples, but fought to keep the definition of marriage as between a man and a woman. I assume Newt agrees. Newt has created a few jobs in his personal business activities--mostly the result of his Washington career. Mitt has created thousands through his private enterprise career. Mitt has laid off people, too. A talent ardently to be desired of the Cheif Executive Downsizer of the behemoth National Government. Newt upheld jobs and federal spending that were clearly outrageous--including his complicity with Fanny Mae and Freddie Mac fiasco both during and after his time in office. I could go on.
Mitt Romney has stayed on message throughout his campaign, focusing on the failures of the Obama Administration and a positive message of restoring America to its former free enterprise glory. His message is Reaganesque in its faith in the American people vs. power to the national government. His delivery has become more polished in his delivery and more effective in his rebuffs. He still comes across a little stiff, corporate, and maybe even a touch disingenuous, but that belies his true character, I believe.