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By Wolf Blitzer, CNN
(CNN) - A week ago, the Gallup daily tracking poll of registered Republicans around the country had Mitt Romney at 37% with Newt Gingrich at only 14%. Guess what? That 23-point spread has now disappeared. The new nationwide Gallup numbers: Romney 29% to Gingrich’s 28%. That’s a statistical tie well within the 3-point sampling error.
It only goes to show you how quickly political fortunes can change. Fresh from his double-digit victory over Romney in South Carolina, Gingrich now certainly has the political momentum going with him into Florida’s January 31 primary. He seems to be on a roll.
But as he himself is fully aware, what goes up can certainly come right back down – and rather quickly.
Since announcing for the presidency, the former speaker already has survived two near-death political falls.
The first was last summer after several members of his senior campaign staff quit following his decision to take a two-week Mediterranean cruise. Many pundits quickly wrote him off. Those pundits made a mistake.
He eventually came back, but once again only to see his numbers collapse in Iowa in the face of a brutal pro-Romney super PAC advertising assault. At the time, Gingrich was trying to take the high road and really didn’t fight back. That was a major political blunder on his part. His numbers collapsed in Iowa, and he wound up coming in fourth. He also finished in fourth place in New Hampshire.
Once again, pundits began to write him off.
Since then, he has fought back. He no longer turns the other cheek. He’s clearly much more effective on the offense. Just check out what happened in South Carolina after his two impressive debate performances.
I will be moderating the CNN Republican presidential debate at the University of North Florida in Jacksonville on Thursday night at 8 p.m. This will be the third time I’m moderating a Republican debate during this election cycle. I know how important these debates have been in affecting voters’ attitudes. I can see and feel it in the auditoriums.
In recent days, I’ve been busy preparing for this week’s debate fully aware of the stakes for the candidates.
There were eight candidates on the stage at the start of this cycle. With only four finalists left, each candidate will have more time. I’m certain the gloves will be off. No more holding back.
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Tune in Thursday at 8 p.m. ET for the CNN Florida Republican Presidential Debate moderated by Wolf Blitzer and follow it on Twitter at #CNNDebate.
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