Among the not-Romney's he is the only one who can unite the party. Economic conservatives like him because he balanced the budget and reformed welfare. Defense hawks like him because he is the most hawkish of the lot. Social conservatives, when they can get past his personal life, like him for his strong record on issues like abortion. And libertarians, like the Libertarian Party's nominee in 2008, Bob Barr, like him because he is economically libertarian and not over the top on social issues.
Can anyone honestly say the same thing about Santorum? He goes out of his way to attack individual freedom and libertarianism and completely blew his chance to be the nominee by focusing on social issues instead of the economy (probably because his economic policy record isn't really that great). Who attacks prenatal diagnostics? Or the idea of contraception? Or says he wants to vomit over a rather non-controversial (and somewhat revered) JFK speech? He has proven himself to be quite a bit more gaffe prone and offensive than Newt, despite the fact that people thought he was a "safer" option. Even I was offended by some of the stuff he said and I am a Pro-Life registered Republican. It's really not surprising that his support is crumbling like it is. See the latest tracking data from Gallup (Santorum's popularity is in dark green, Romney's is black [matches his soul], Newt's is orange and Ron Paul's is light green):
Santorum is just not ready for prime time. He is simply too divisive, offending gays, women, parents, protestants and libertarians (in total about 80-90% of the electorate). Unfortunately, he retains enough support to possibly give Romney a majority of the states on Super Tuesday. His conservative backers need to wake up quickly, bite the bullet and go with Newt. As the brilliant Thomas Sowell wrote:
Newt Gingrich is the only candidate still in the field who can clearly take on Barack Obama in one-on-one debate and cut through the Obama rhetoric and mystique with hard facts and plain logic.
Nor is this just a matter of having a gift of gab. Gingrich has a far deeper grasp of both the policies and the politics than the other Republican candidates.
Can anyone really argue with that?
I think Ron Paul supporters (the historically Republican ones, not the liberals who are just visiting the GOP for this election in order to support Paul) need to wake up as well. They are not furthering libertarianism at all by supporting Paul any more. He's made his point and has shown that he is a force to be reckoned with but supporting Paul on Tuesday just increases the chances that the most statist candidate, Mitt Romney, is nominated. Do you really want to be responsible for nominating the only Governor, Republican or Democrat, to enact a socialist universal healthcare system in their states? Newt isn't a libertarian but he is the man who did the most to wound the leviathan in the last 30 years. Why not vote for him and give this country a chance? It clearly won't with either Romney or Obama.
Finally, Newt is simply the most electable candidate in the race right now. As I mentioned earlier, he can unite the party, has a great grasp of both politics and logic and can actually explain conservatism in a way that others can understand and agree with. Santorum and Paul are both to extreme to get almost any independents over into the fold.
Sure he has baggage but I think most of it will go away. Freddie Mac? Let's see Obama bring that up when he received over $126,000 in bribes, err I mean donations, from Fannie and Freddie while he was in or seeking office (he was the #2 largest recipient in Congress, #1 was the notoriously corrupt Chris Dodd). Nancy Pelosi? Let's see Obama make an issue out of that one or Newt's opposition to cramming down the Ryan plan.
It's time for believers in small government and personal liberty to unite behind Newt, otherwise we will once again have a Nixon vs. McGovern sort of choice in the fall. And the stakes are just too high this election for that.