Why Is Gingrich Leading Romney In South Carolina?


Heilemann provides two answers. First, Gingrich is much better at talking about local issues. Second, Gingrich is "simply capable of being the bigger and stronger figure" than Romney. Heilemann focuses on a moment at a Gingrich rally to make his second point: 

Gingrich was confronted by a heckler who shouted out “When will you release your ethics report?"—an apparent reference to Romney's call earlier in the day for Gingrich to put out the documents relating to a congressional investigation of him in the Nineties. Gingrich got the same look in his eyes that filled them on Thursday night when King raised the open-marriage question at the debate: a mixture of glee and withering scorn. "Actually, if you would do a little research instead ofshouting mindlessly, you would discover that the entire thing is available online in the Thomas system"—the online congressional database that Gingrich himself brought into existence as speaker in 1995—"and you can print it out," he fired back. "I think it is 900 pages. When you get done reading it, let me know if there are any questions." The crowd cheered loudly and then Gingrich delivered the coup de grace: "I assume you're for the candidate who 's afraid to release his income taxes."

Needless to say, this kind of spontaneity and forcefulness in the face of an unexpected challenge has not been Romney's forte.

(Photo: Voter Larry Conn wears a hat that said 'undecided' on it before Republican presidential hopeful former Speaker Newt Gingrich crossed it out and autographed it during a meet and greet with potential voters inside 'Tommy's Ham House' in Greenville , South Carolina, January 21, 2012 on South Carolina's Republican presidential primary day. By Paul J. Richards/AFP/Getty Images)