President Obama's reelection team took Newt Gingrich's presidential campaign as seriously as Gingrich did -- which appears to be not all that seriously. Obama's campaign had such low expectations for Gingrich's candidacy that it didn't even prepare a comprehensive opposition research file on him, Politico's Mike Allen reports. And while Gingrich says he knew all along -- even when his campaign was nearly dead this summer -- that he'd climb to the top of polls, it doesn't look like his campaign thought so. After not bothering to file the necessary paperwork to get on the ballot for Missouri's February 7 primary, Gingrich could miss the Wednesday deadline to get on the ballot for Ohio's March 6 primary. They have till 4p.m., and "We are going to give it our damnedest," spokesman R.C. Hammand told The Washington Times' Susan Crabtree.
"I NEED TO KNOW BY MIDNIGHT," Gingrich's Ohio organizer Jonathan Petrea said in an email to state Republicans asking for signatures Friday, The Washington Post's Philip Rucker reports. (Ohio has complex qualifications requiring different numbers of signatures in its districts.) Crabtree reports that the Gingrich campaign is considering a write-in campaign if they don't make the ballot filing deadline. Their paperwork to get on New Hampshire's ballot was messy and hand-written, she says. And more deadlines are looming: Also upcoming are December 9 for Louisiana and MIchigan, December 14 for Alabama, December 15 for Texas, and December 22 for Virginia. Staffers are "confident" he'll make the Alabama and Virginia ballots, Crabtree says. Meanwhile, he's struggling to pay down $1,2 million campaign debt he'd accumulated by September, after spending tons of money on private jets and fancy hotels, the Post's Dan Eggen reports. The campaign expects to be debt-free by the end of the year, and it's already paid off $42,000 to Gingrich himself for a mailing list, Eggen writes.
The scrambling on both sides comes as Gingrich is looking very strong in Iowa, according to a new poll, The New York Times' Jeff Zeleny and Marjorie Connelly report. Not only is Gingrich more Iowans' first-choice pick, but he's "rated more favorably" than any of the other candidates. And Republicans are getting over this whole anti-Washington thing:
"A leading attribute cited in interviews with voters here is his deep experience in Washington. He does better among those who say candidates should only be judged based on their political record -- he is supported by 39 percent of those voters -- but among those who say candidates should also judged on their personal life, he gets 27 percent support."
Allen cites several reasons Gingrich has to be taken seriously, including that Gingrich's one-liners are suited to the mood of the Republican base; lots of people are watching the debates, where he shines; and that all of the Obama's campaigns hard work to destroy Romney has benefitted Gingrich. Here's another: his long record of accomplishment, against all odds. Gingrich has so many accomplishments he forgets them for years, only to remember them in the middle of a cable news interview, as he did Tuesday night with Larry Kudlow, as Political Wire points out. Gingrich explained, "You could make an argument that I helped Mitt Romney get rich because I helped pass the legislation that…" Kudlow cut in: "It's not a bad argument. Have you ever made that argument?" Gingrich half-joked: "I am as of right this minute. It just occurred to me... He should be thanking me. He should be thanking me because I did the macroeconomic things necessary to make his career possible!"