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In his column, “Gingrich Attacks Will Help Romney And Hurt Obama,” Jonathan Alter argues that Mitt Romney may benefit from Newt Gingrich’s continued efforts to label him as a moderate:

Newt Gingrich was so bitter after his Florida loss that he neither called Mitt Romney to concede nor congratulated him in his primary-night speech. Now he’s hell- bent on chasing Romney around the U.S. for the next seven months making his life miserable. Who does this help? I say Romney.

The competition doesn’t “prepare” Romney for the fall, as he said when declaring victory in Florida. But Gingrich’s presence in the race does have the perverse effect of making Romney seem more rational and centrist, which will help a lot in the general election.

Conventional wisdom holds that a long and brutal Republican primary campaign can only benefit Barack Obama, if for no other reason than that it gives Romney more chances to make another dumb gaffe, like saying “I’m not concerned about the very poor.” Obama backers smile at the prospect of Gingrich crisscrossing the country exacting revenge for Florida.

The cover of the New Yorker this week shows a happy president tuning into football only to find he’s watching Romney and Gingrich grapple on the gridiron. Because Democrats aren’t fortunate enough to have Gingrich as the doomed Republican nominee (“I did not think I had lived a good enough life” for that, Barney Frank joked last fall), they’ll settle for the human time bomb blowing more holes in the listing hull of the USS Romney.

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