The Daily Scoop: Why Gingrich would lose debate with Obama


Newt Gingrich is basing his bid for the Republican presidential nomination, in large part, on one premise: He is the candidate best equipped to debate President Obama.

If he becomes the nominee, Gingrich asserts, he will challenge the president to seven Lincoln-Douglas-style debates, three hours apiece. He says the president’s ego would compel him to accept, but if he doesn’t, Gingrich promises, “I’m going to say, ‘The White House is now my scheduler,’ and wherever he goes, I will show up within four hours to take apart whatever he said — that’s how Lincoln got Douglas to debate.”

It’s easy to dismiss Gingrich’s challenge as a gimmick, just some red meat to excite GOP primary voters, and not a challenge Obama would ever accept. But what if he did? What if the president and the former House speaker dueled in a series of open, nationally televised debates? An honest look at Gingrich’s record suggests that the results could differ markedly from the fantasies of Team Newt.
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10 Comments to “The Daily Scoop: Why Gingrich would lose debate with Obama”

  1. I would so enjoy this debate – or Obama debating against any of the GOP candidates.

    • I think both the frontrunners are underestimating Obama’s debate skills. It’s possible they perceive his lack of response to their criticism as weakness or that he has no defense. Given what was addressed in the State of the Union, he simply hasn’t gotten started yet. He will be in pretty firm control come the general election debates.

  2. The problem is, even if Gingrich were to stammer, drool, and wet the floor, the right wing media would still say he trounced Obama, and the wingnuts would believe it.

  3. The promise of being a good speaker is alluring to some, longing for the days past. People believed that Al Gore was a better debater than George Bush. Gore lost the election. People believed that George H.W. Bush was a better speaker than Bill Clinton. Bush lost the election. Nixon was supposed to be the better speaker over John F. Kennedy. Kennedy won the election.

    The idea that being a good speaker will make a candidate more likely to win an election is overstated. Studies have shown that physical appearance of the candidates is most important. In many cases, the candidate with the most pleasing look wins. The taller candidate wins. The thinner candidate wins.

    Blind tests in Europe attempting to determine the winner of state level elections, based on physical appearance only, were within 3 percent of the actual voting totals.

    In that case, Newt Gingrich could have a silver tongue, be the greatest public speaker ever, and he would still lose in a head to head matchup, as physical appearance wins out. Are you more likely to vote for the silky young black man with the pretty eyes, or the character model for the troll avatars on World of Warcraft.

    That said, I’d still love to see the debates, no matter what candidate. Though, I think Ron Paul would probably be the best of the bunch, since he’s made the most of his having the least amount of speaking time for any of the four remaning candidates.

    • It’s pathetic that physical appearance is so important in elections. But it’s certainly true that physical height has been an advantage in U.S. elections.

      The partisans and the reasonably informed won’t be influenced by such things, but our elections are determined by scores of voters who haven’t been following the news, don’t know what’s going on, but feel that it’s important to vote.

  4. Gingrich may be quick on his feet when it comes to debating, but one this he doesn’t have is integrity and credibility, which will make him an easy target going up against Obama.

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