There is an idea floating around that Newt Gingrich will absolutely “crucify the President in the debates.” This thought is so prevalent that some people actually want Newt to win the Republican nomination just so they can have the satisfaction of watching someone put the arrogant, cold, condescending Obama in his place. Never mind that Obama is polling strongly ahead of Gingrich in a head-to-head matchup. These people are willing to take their chances in the general election just so they can see Newt mop the floor with Obama in the debates.

But the thought that Gingrich would “mop the floor” with Obama in a debate is a strained notion, at best.

Newt is a smart guy. He has shown an ability to score some solid debating points with pithy answers and sharp rebukes to the questioners when he considers their questions to be slanted or ‘gotcha’ in nature. That ability stands him in good stead to deliver a solid debate performance v Obama.

But “crucify”? Doubtful. Very doubtful.

What is far more likely is a tactical draw, where each side scores some solid shots, each group of supporters claims ‘victory,’ and the liberal MSM shades the post-debate analysis towards Obama. No knockout blow.

There have been very few real debate knockouts in recent times. Lloyd Bentson’s “…and you’re no Jack Kennedy” v the hapless Dan Quayle in 1988 was a good one—brought about only because Quayle stupidly tried to draw a parallel between himself and the young Jack Kennedy. Bentson didn’t initiate that line. He only took advantage of the opening handed to him, and full credit to him for being fast on his feet.

In 1976, Gerald Ford said the Eastern Europeans were not “dominated by the Soviet Union,” and Carter pounced on that, implying that Ford didn’t know about the situation in E. Europe, the Iron Curtain, etc. In fact, Ford was trying to say—albeit very clumsily—that the E. European Soviet satellite countries were free in spirit, that their national identity and pride would never be erased by the USSR. But it didn’t come across that way, the liberal MSM happily cemented the wrong impression of Ford’s “stupidity,” and Carter won by 2 or 3 points.

In 1988, Michael Dukakis stumbled when asked if he would favor the death penalty if someone raped and murdered his wife Kitty. He hesitated, equivocated, and finally said “No.” Dumb move. A self-inflicted fatal wound. George H. W. Bush said, “Yes, of course, ” and the debate was over.

One can make all the stereotypical jokes and cracks they want about Obama’s limited ability to speak without a teleprompter. But the fact remains, he is a slick, eloquent, calm, controlled, measured speaker, and the chances of him committing an unforced error like Ford or Dukakis is near zero.

Obama made absolutely no verbal mistakes against McCain in the 2008 debates. Obama spoke calmly and confidently, and brought every question and topic around to what he wanted to talk about–the way every good debater does.

Newt may make some strong points, but Obama will respond in kind and he’ll stay on his message. If anyone is more likely to get emotional and stray from his game plan, it’s the volatile and unpredictable Gingrich.

A high-scoring tactical draw is the best Newt can hope for.

A “crucifiction”? Not a chance in h*ll! (Pardon the pun!)