FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:
In a presidential election, a lot of things come into play when determining the outcome.
Our country is beset with countless serious problems. For starters, we're broke, we're not creating jobs the way we need to and congress and Washington are a divided, dysfunctional mess.
So every four years we get to listen to candidates who come forward with ideas about how to make our lives better. Like the candidates themselves, some of the ideas are good and others are not.
But at the end of the day, it's often the likeability or the power of a candidate to connect with voters that makes the difference.
On the Republican side, the choice increasingly looks like it's between Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich.
And one study found some interesting differences between the two men. Democratic pollster Peter Hart has described a focus group of Republican primary voters done for the Annenberg Public Policy Center.
When asked what relative Gingrich reminded them of, several Republicans said a favorite uncle or a grandfather. They described Romney as a "missing father" or a second cousin. Not exactly warm and fuzzy feelings for Romney.
Just one more strike against the one-time presumed nominee.
Meanwhile, Politico reports on the many reasons why Gingrich might win this thing, including:
Romney being forced to play catch-up; Gingrich's message being perfect for the anti-Washington Times; Gingrich rocking the debates, which are drawing huge audiences; the Obama campaign doing much of the anti-Romney work; social conservatives distrusting Romney, and Gingrich has momentum on his side, with the first four states voting in January.
Here's my question to you: What does it mean when Republicans say Newt Gingrich reminds them of a favorite uncle or grandfather, while Mitt Romney reminds them of a missing father or second cousin?
Interested to know which ones made it on air?
Terry in Virginia:
My favorite uncle was a con artist. That describes Newt's current incarnation, especially since I remember the Old Newt from the 1990s. As to Romney as a missing father figure? No. I'd describe him as a wet noodle or jelly fish. He should've stood up to Trump but instead he wimps out. I wasn't going to vote for Obama again but the GOP is leaving me no other choice except to stay home on Election Day.
We are talking about electing the president of the United States, not who is going to dress up as Santa Claus at Christmas dinner. Does anyone in the Republican electorate understand or care about the issues? Or are they only concerned about who is the most huggable?
Gingrich speaks as if he's a relative and isn't responsible for your behavior. Romney acts as if he's aware that he's responsible for you, but doesn't want to have anything to do with you. You can also say Romney is remote and aloof, doing what he’s doing only because he believes he has to, having no real passion or understanding of it. Looks like Uncle Newt is solidifying his base.
It sounds like your average, Christian conservative, church-going Republican family with lying and cheating uncles and grandfathers, absentee fathers and loonie second cousins. I can't agree more.
Michael in Alexandria, Virginia:
Romney reminds most people of the boss who fired them. In many cases, he was. It actually does not matter what Republicans think. The margin of victory will be provided by independent crossover voters, none of whom will vote for Newt. Most will go for Mitt. Ron Paul reminds them of their crazy grandfather. He will also get some crossovers.
I can see their point. Romney stands before you, talks, and you ask yourself: who is this guy? He reminds me of someone in the family that we haven't heard from in years. Soon you forget what he looks like and what he said. Newt appears at Christmas just like an elf, tells stories, throws in a little history lesson, then returns to his world of make-believe: money, mirror-gazing, and multiple wives.