The New York Times:
As Newt Gingrich prepares for what may be the last debate of the primary season, much in need of another comeback, his campaign has a new saying born of frustration with two earlier lackluster debates: “Let Newt be Newt.”
Mr. Gingrich, more than any other candidate, has seen his fortunes ebb and flow with debates, and there is a consensus in his team that his big loss in Florida’s Republican presidential primary last month was in no small part because of debates in which he strained to look above the fray. According to one top aide, Mr. Gingrich’s two daughters had advised him to strike a presidential pose, but that was not the Newt Gingrich voters craved.
“To some extent,” said Bob Walker, another top adviser, “we didn’t let Newt be Newt in those debates.”
In the debate on Wednesday in Mesa, Ariz., the first in nearly a month, Mr. Gingrich will not be center stage. His advisers believe that will allow him to remain unscathed while Rick Santorum, the current leader in national polls, and Mitt Romney do battle.
“They can be the Chihuahuas, and he can be Churchill,” said Kellyanne Conway, a senior adviser to Mr. Gingrich.
The stakes are high for Mr. Gingrich, who is low on money and facing eclipse by Mr. Santorum’s surge even in Southern states that were to be his bulwark. He needs to give voters, especially conservatives, a reason to return to him.
“He’s got one shot,” said Keith Nahigian, who managed Representative Michele Bachmann’s campaign before her withdrawal. “He has to do something substantial. He blew two debates pretty badly.”
(...) Ms. Conway, who is a pollster, said she and the campaign’s top ad creator, Rex Elsass, “were beside ourselves” over the advice Mr. Gingrich received in Florida to remain above the fray, writing “memo after memo that you’ve got to go on the attack.”
“Newt’s got to be Newt,” she added. “He doesn’t have to act presidential.”