Last night's republican televised debate had some winners and some losers. Who you class as winning or losing will be up to you. For this UK blogger Newt Gingrich sounded like nothing but a big loser last night.
Fair enough his extreme statements pleased the 3,000-strong crowd in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina and raised him more than one cheer. However you have to remember that his audience was not a fair cross section of US people. At least it is hoped that it was not.
Whilst expressing sentiments about kids who choose to work at the occasional job he came close to extremist views. In the UK many kids used to have paper rounds plus jobs during the school holidays. Some fared well in adult life but not all. Assuming that kids who are pushed or choose to work in childhood will all be financially successful in adulthood is nonsense. Some will, some won't. His feeling that "poor children in low-income households should be given the opportunity to be janitors at their own schools", belittle the true extent of their problem. A school program for all children is one thing but singling out poor, and black, children is another.
Attacking child labour laws is also dangerous. Without them kids could be used and abused in many ways. Those children who come from difficult families would not stand a chance. Citing his own daughter who had held a cleaning job at the age of 13 is plain bonkers.
However, his own lightly veiled racist insinuations were loved by the home crowd. Of course they were. Anything that smacks of attacking black President Barack Obama. It seems that the race card is alive and well in the US.
Whilst Newt did get some boos from the audience he had obviously decided that last night was his make or break night. The gloves were off and he wanted to portray a man capable of standing up against Barack Obama and winning. He wanted to pick fault in the favourite to win, Mitt Romney. I guess he also wanted to show that he still had fire in his belly. Did he succeed?
The cheers and standing ovations may make it appear that he did. However 3,000 people is not the US electorate. His words may have pleased the South Carolina crowd but could alienate others further afield in the US. Gingrich issued more reactionary statements which ,to coin his own phrase, "baloney". (Watch the attached video to make up your own mind)
As more than one commentator said, when Newt is on form, he is on form. He is known for his debating skills given the right audience and the right day. All this proves though is that he can talk the talk. There have been many brilliant political speakers but not all have been good candidates to lead a country. Adolf Hitler springs to mind instantly.
Between now and the South Carolina Primary there is still time for plenty more spiel so watch this space.