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Firable offense: Romney commits one

Supposedly, Newt Gingrich is the presidential candidate whose mouth will get him in trouble in a general election. But Gingrich's open-mouthed intellectual explorations are hardly more damaging than Mitt Romney's clumsy efforts to sound conservative — such as his comment yesterday: &#';I like being able to fire people who provide services to me.&#';

This general election will pit Populist Obama — Mr. 99 Percent, self-proclaimed — against a Republican nominee. Will the people of New Hampshire vote to give Obama the nominee he can most easily caricature as an out-of-touch 1 percenter indifferent to the concerns of the middle class?

Both Romney and Gingrich have weaknesses, but Gingrich has strengths that are more formidable than Romney's. He is the candidate most able to articulate clear distinctions between himself and President Obama — distinctions unfavorable to Obama. He is far more aggressive on the attack and more appealing to blue-collar voters. And unlike Rick Santorum, Gingrich can explain his positions on social issues in ways that don't make his positions liabilities.

We know today's vote is a tough decision. But voters looking for an electable conservative should know that they don't have to settle for Romney, who is not conservative and who looks less electable every day.

Newt Gingrich is not perfect, but he is more conservative and more electable than the multimillionaire who thinks it's a great idea with 8.6 percent unemployment to speak in a way that makes him appear to be waxing nostalgic about firing people.


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