NEWS FLASH: Newt is not the nominee

Saturday’s primary in South Carolina rocked the entire field. No doubt about it. But let’s not get carried away, folks. Yes, Newt Gingrich won handily with 40 percent of the vote. But now that the hangover has passed, let’s put the South Carolina primary in perspective.

A few hundred thousand votes in arguably one of the most conservative states in the union does not a presidential candidate coronate. Gingrich won Saturday’s primary because of two red-meat responses in packed convention centers that followed two bone-headed questions from moderators. Newt knew exactly what he was doing — he was playing to the crowd, and using the media and wacko leftist thought as the common enemy everyone in the room shared those nights.

That alone will not win the nomination. And it certainly will not win the presidency against a campaigner who is pretty adept at twisting words and waging class warfare.

I about lost my ham sandwich on Sunday when I read a close Gingrich ally telling reporters that Newt had “crossed the threshold of electability [last night].” WRONG.

In fact, nothing could be further from the truth. The former Speaker is a brilliant debater. I don’t dispute that. But the average American voter wants to hear how his or her neighbor will get his/her job back; not high-minded rhetoric regarding food-stamp policies or what an elite media peddler looks like. Americans don’t think and act in Washington ways. Gingrich needs to start sharing some bold ideas. He even hinted as much over the weekend. As reported in The Hill yesterday, "Gingrich downplayed his debate performances in his victory speech to supporters Saturday night, saying: 'It's not that I'm a good debater, it's that I articulate the deepest-felt values of the American people.’ " He knows he needs to do better outside of just being a superb orator.

Think about it. Everyone recalls 9-9-9 and which candidate owned that policy. Can anyone name something that Gingrich would fix — other than he was against the Ryan Medicare plan before he was for it?

See what’s wrong here?

Early indications from Florida point to another heated primary. And last night’s debate only confirmed this will be a gunfight in the Sunshine State. It should tell Romney’s team what they’ve wanted all along — a race that will steel the the eventual nominee (their belief) and prepare him for a tough general campaign.

This is a new race now. Gingrich and Romney both are far from the prize, and for different reasons.