In the Arena

22 Days Left: Betcha $10

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This will be a brief post. I’m in New Hampshire, waiting for Newt Gingrich and Jon Huntsman to engage in a 90-minute Lincoln-Douglas style debate about national security–which should be fun. Meanwhile, though the news of the day is the contretemps between Mitt Romney and Gingrich.

Romney slammed Gingrich for taking $1.6 million from Freddie Mac, which was predictable. Gingrich’s response–and you may recall that he wasn’t going to “go negative” was lacerating, courtesy of The Page:

“If Governor Romney would like to give back all the money he’s earned from bankrupting companies and laying off employees over his years at Bain, then I would be glad to then listen to him. And I will bet you $10, not $10,000, that he won’t take the offer.”

Gingrich is really good at this. He has been ever since he drove Tip O’Neill crazy in the early 1980s. When he can control his laser-mouth, it can be a powerful tool. He’s been controlling it so far. He may not be able to do so for long, but…do not underestimate the value of senior citizen hormones.

As for the rest of the bunch, not much news–this may be settling into a top-tier, second-tier race, with Ron Paul rounding out the top tier. He’s here in New Hampshire this week, an interesting choice of venue.

UPDATE: And Romney has just fired another inevitable shot, about Gingrich’s momentary opposition to Paul Ryan’s Medicare-busting plan.

“Speaker Gingrich said that the Ryan Plan, which was an entitlement reform plan, was ‘right-wing social engineering.’ I was astonished. I said it was a courageous step; that I support it. It’s not identical to my own plan. Mine builds on what he did and I have a little more choice than he had in his. But he took an enormously positive step and almost every Republican congressman — I think three or four exceptions — voted in favor of his plan. And then his reaction on national TV? Oh, it’s right-wing social engineering. I have to tell you Speaker Gingrich was exactly wrong on that and as someone said, he might hit the ground running but not in the same direction I’m going to go. “