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Noah Kaplan

Newt Gingrich, a former Speaker of the House and Tulanegraduate, has surged in recent Republican presidential polls.

In a poll released Thursday by the New York Daily News, Gingrichheld a 21 percent lead over Mitt Romney and a 2 percent lead overPresident Barack Obama. He also received the endorsement of theUnion Leader, the largest newspaper in New Hampshire, lastweekend.

According to CNN, Gingrich’s poll numbers have been on the riseduring the last month both nationally and in the crucial pollingstates.

“Gingrich is peaking at the right time,” assistant professor ofpolitical science Brian Brox said. “He just needs to maintain hislead until Iowa. His first task is to make this a two-man race[against Romney].”

The Union Leader endorsement came less than two months beforeNew Hampshire’s primary elections, the first in the nation.

“The endorsement strengthens Gingrich’s campaign,” said juniorNicholas Callais, chairman of Students for Newt of Louisiana.”People are really taking him seriously.”

Gingrich’s received his Ph.D. in European history from Tulane in1971 and is known for his frequent historical references inspeeches and debates.

“In an election season rife with factual misstatements,deliberate and otherwise, Mr. Gingrich sometimes seems to stand outfor exhibiting an excess of knowledge,” New York Times writer TripGabriel reported Tuesday.

Joseph McQuaid, publisher of the Union Leader, said thatGingrich’s knowledge of history is one of his strongest merits.

“[Gingrich] has a command of the history of this country,”McQuaid said. “From the conversations I’ve had with him over theyears, he gets America. He understands what our freedoms are allabout. He has a great grasp of what has made this country and anunderstanding of what government is and is not supposed to do.”

A reputation as an academic, however, is not always an advantagein the current political climate.

“Relying on academic credentials generally isn’t an effectivetechnique to appeal to the American electorate,” Brox said.”Gingrich is taking his degree and turning that into ideas. Hewants to be seen as the candidate with serious ideas.”

“None of the founding fathers would have said that educationwithout character is useful,” Gingrich said at a November Iowafamily values forum. “They would have said it is in factdangerous.”

Senior Richard Exton, president of Tulane college democrats,said Tulane remains a liberal campus. In early November, theorganization held a day of action for the Obama For AmericaCampaign. Exton said Tulane’s campus was the most successful in thenation.

“One of the big misconceptions right now is that somehow theRepublicans are going to make a giant resurgence,” Exton said. “Alot of people are disappointed with Obama right now, but once youget through the primary process, you’ll have a lot of peoplewondering who is really better for president.”

Callais said students ultimately should support the conservativepresidential candidate.

“The youth unemployment rate is near an all time high, ourcredit rating has been downgraded, and our generation will beforced to pay off a debt of over $15 trillion dollars,” Callaissaid. “We need any candidate who can change this current path, andfor that reason alone, many more college students are turning tothe Republican Party to restore our nation back on a path ofprosperity.”

Brox said Gingrich’s affiliation with Tulane should not be apolitical factor for Tulane voters.

“Still, he is a former academic, and if he wins the presidency,that would give Tulane access to the administration that we’venever had before,” Brox said. “Having a connection to the WhiteHouse would be very exciting and would give Tulane many newopportunities.”

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