Former GOP presidential candidate from Georgia, Newt Gingrich, appeared on ABC’S “The Week” today, where he spoke about Mitt Romney’s performance during the last presidential debate and the role that debates can play in an election season.
Most pundits and journalist declared the last debate between the former Massachusetts Governor and President Barack Obama to be a definitive victory for Romney.
“What was a surprise to me was not that Romney was as good as he was,” said the former Speaker of the House who debated Romney during the Republican primary. “(…) this guy went to both Harvard Business School and Harvard Law School simultaneously. He’s a very hard-working, very methodical person.
“The big surprise to me was the emptiness on the other side. I mean, what made that debate so startling was Romney was better than people expected and Obama was unbelievably less capable than people expected, and it was the match-up that made it so extraordinary.”
Gingrich added that this first debate, while maybe not so crucial to the President, was a do-or-die situation for the Romney campaign.
“If Romney had had as bad as debate as Obama, we would be sitting here talking about the elections being over,” said Gingrich.
The conversation on “The Week” included a discussion on how important the debates can be to candidates and their campaigns.
Gingrich, who became the first Republican candidate for president to win the South Carolina primary after a positive debate performance but who did not capture the GOP nomination, agreed the debate can play a crucial role.
“That 90 minutes with no editing, no breaks, you begin to watch these two people interact with the moderator, you get a different sense than you do from TV commercials,” said the Speaker. “I thought Romney, frankly, was helped because the Obama campaign spent three months portraying him as a person he’s not, and people saw him and said, wait a second, that’s not the guy I’ve been frightened about, just as Reagan in 1980 suddenly was a lot more reasonable than the Carter caricature of him.”
The next presidential debate is coming up next Tuesday, October 16, and Gingrich believes that President Obama will bring his A-game this time around.
“In terms of the debates this time, if Obama has one more debate as bad as his first debate, I think he will be in enormous trouble,” said the Speaker. “So I’m assuming he’ll fight his way back. I’m assuming that the race will be fairly close, but he couldn’t take a second debate as bad as his first debate without, I think, seeing the whole race blow wide open.”