With former House Speaker Newt Gingrich surging to a strong lead in opinion polls in most of the early caucus and primary states, it is understandable that the other Republican presidential hopefuls would go on offense against him in a bid to improve their own standing.
That was in evidence in the latest GOP debate in Iowa, a state whose first-in-the nation caucuses are just three weeks from today! The Republican candidates took turns attacking the various positions and statements of increasingly popular Gingrich.
Some faulted his blunt talk about radical Muslim Palestinians who threaten Israel's security. Their criticism wasn't so much the content of what Gingrich said. Some of his fellow Republicans - including former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who is generally running second in opinion polls - even said they largely agree with Gingrich. But they argued that he was too confrontational in how he said it.
Gingrich defended his comments.
"Is what I said factually correct? Yes. Is it historically true? Yes," he said. "Are we in a situation where every day rockets are fired into Israel while the United States - the current administration - tries to pressure the Israelis into a peace process? ... Somebody ought to have the courage to tell the truth. These people are terrorists. They teach terrorism in their schools. ... [I]t's fundamentally the time for somebody to have the guts to stand up and say, 'Enough lying about the Middle East.'"
Meanwhile, the candidates were generally and sensibly in agreement on opposing tax hikes and increased federal regulations, which harm prospects for economic growth and job creation.
A lot can change between now and the Iowa caucuses in three weeks - and before voting takes place shortly thereafter in early primary states such as New Hampshire, South Carolina and Florida.
But if Gingrich takes strong victories in most of those early states, he would be well on his way to winning the Republican nomination - and facing President Barack Obama next November.