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Inside the Boiler Room: Can Gingrich Beat Romney?

Mark Murray and Domenico Montanaro discuss whether Newt Gingrich can continue his current lead in Republican polls. With Gingrich’s inconsistent positions and personal history, can he survive on top until the New Hampshire primary?

Thanks Amy B. Portland, ME for the question!

Keep an eye out for future editions of Inside the Boiler Room and don't forget to post your questions for Mark Murray and Domenico Montanaro. You can also tweet us, @NBCFirstRead,  @mmurraypolitics or @DomenicoNBC, or post on our Facebook page.

Video edited and transcribed by NBC's Matt Loffman. 


MARK MURRAY: Welcome to the latest edition of Inside the Boiler Room.  I'm Mark Murray joined by colleague Domenico Montanaro.  Domenico, we have a question from one of our commenters Amy B., Portland, Maine who asks 'Does Newt Gingrich really have a chance to beat Mitt Romney in the Republican primary?'

DOMENICO MONTANARO: Wow.  Newt Gingrich is really at the top of the polls.  It's really something to see considering where he was seven months ago.  Can he beat Mitt Romney?  Well, anybody who can coalesce that anti-Romney vote has a chance at beating Mitt Romney, but call me skeptical.  And I'll give you three reasons why, and hopefully I can remember all three.  1) his inconsistencies, okay?  I mean, there's a full range of flip flops that we've seen from Newt Gingrich which we've highlighted already.  2) His lack of discipline.  He even said it himself that he has to be more disciplined.  And 3) his personal problems.  Look, we know about his three marriages.  We know how polarizing he's been.  We know about Tiffany's.  Hello, like this is all stuff that's going to come back out for the scrutiny.  And I only remembered those three things, because I had notes.

MARK MURRAY: I'm glad you remembered.

DOMENICO MONTANARO: The other thing.  Debates.  Everyone was talking about how Newt Gingrich has rode these debates to the top of the polls, and he has because he's had limited money.  His campaign team quit on him completely, right? So he had nothing else to go off of except these debates, but let's not write off Mitt Romney's ability to debate here.  We saw at one of the most recent debates, he actually  took Newt Gingrich to task on the individual mandate.  Quite a moment. 

MARK MURRAY: Well right. I feel like that Newt Gingrich's lack of organization is really going to be able to hurt him and really this entire Bloomberg story that he took $1.6, at least $1.6 million from Freddie Mac is devastating to him because it makes him seem like he's part of Washington.  That's not what Tea Party conservative Republicans want.  So that's really tough for him, but Domenico, this has been such a fascinating cycle where one person has gone up, another person has gone down.  But what's really interesting as we've had these cycles is that they didn't just come out of the blue.  These Tea Party conservative voters are changing their opinion.  So as one person, they might not like Rick Perry anymore.  All of sudden Herman Cain is the new flavor of the month.  Herman Cain now has some baggage.  It becomes Newt Gingrich.  I'm just fascinated to see where they end up come January when we have Iowa and New Hampshire.  That's the big question.

DOMENICO MONTANARO: Yeah and the likelihood we're moving toward it could be Mitt Romney, you know, sealing it quickly if he can win Iowa or South Carolina.  But that's still a huge question if he can peel off some of those more conservative voters.

MARK MURRAY: Or there could be just another flavor of the month.  We don't know.  Thanks, Amy.