• With: Dorothy Rabinowitz, Stephen Moore, Joseph Rago, Collin Levy, James Taranto

    This is a rush transcript from "Journal Editorial Report," November 19, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

    PAUL GIGOT, HOST: This week on "The Journal Editorial Report," Newt Gingrich takes his turn at the top. Is the former House speaker just the latest flavor of the month, or can he actually win the Republican nomination?

    Plus, the Supreme Court agrees to takes up Obamacare. Will the Justices vote to overturn? We'll handicap the odds.

    And is the "Occupy Wall Street" all washed up, or maybe just getting started? We'll take a look at its future and the risk to Democratic lawmakers who get too close.

    Welcome to "The Journal Editorial Report." I'm Paul Gigot.

    Well, it was a good week for Republican presidential hopeful and former House speaker Newt Gingrich, with polls showing him surging in the race for the nomination as former front-runner Herman Cain falls. The latest Fox News poll shows Gingrich's support doubling in the last three weeks from 12 percent in late October to 23 percent. He's now tied for the lead with Mitt Romney, who has the support of 22 percent of GOP primary voters.

    But as they take a closer look, will Newt Gingrich stay on top?

    Let's ask Wall Street Journal editorial board members Dorothy Rabinowitz and Joe Rago and senior economics writer Steve Moore.

    So Dorothy, what's behind this Gingrich surge?

    DOROTHY RABINOWITZ, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL: Realization. It's really the perception of a mass of people at what they're looking at. And I think it was pretty pat of all of the commentators to say, well, this is the latest flavor of the month. I doubt that this is the latest flavor of the month.

    GIGOT: Well, what -- what is his appeal, though, at this moment?

    RABINOWITZ: His appeal is simply -- it's not simple. It's the genuine concentration on issues that has been absent, his capacity to engage people on issues. By issues we mean foreign, as well as domestic, the depth of his reporting on the meaning of issues.

    And there is the X factor, the feeling that people have that they're listening to something different and substantial, some kind of very hearty meal, as opposed to a kind of mind-numbing repetition of, the government is broke, Washington is broke. How many times can you hear that and...


    GIGOT: So he can think on his feet and is doing well in the debates.

    RABINOWITZ: And expansively.

    GIGOT: Steve, in the summer, as you know, the Gingrich campaign was really given up for dead. His staff had quit. He had all kinds of troubles, couldn't raise any money -- still not raising a lot of money, although that has improved. What's your reading on the revival of Gingrich?

    STEPHEN MOORE, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL: Well, I think Dorothy has it right, that what -- the reason you're seeing this revival of Newt Gingrich is that he has looked presidential, Paul, in these debates. He can play the part, and that's something the Republicans really want.

    You and I have known Newt Gingrich for over 20 years. We know that, you know, you walk around with Newt Gingrich, and he always has a live hand grenade in his pocket. So you never know when it's going explode. But you know, for the last...

    GIGOT: You want that in a president, Steve? Do you want a president with a live hand grenade in his pocket?


    MOORE: I'm not so sure, but you know, for the last couple months, it has not detonated. He's looked very good. And I -- one last thing, Paul. I've really gone through his economic program, and I think it's excellent. He sounds very much like a modern-day Jack Kemp, and it's a very appealing message.

    GIGOT: You mean it's a pro-growth message with substantial tax cutting as part of it.

    MOORE: That's right.

    GIGOT: Is that what you like?

    MOORE: Yes, the tax cuts. It also has personal accounts for Social Security. He wants -- one of the things I love, Paul, he wants to get rid of the Congressional Budget Office, which has been the bane of existence of supply-siders like me and you for 20 years. So he has very innovative ideas, and I think they're very attractive to conservative Republican voters.

    GIGOT: All right, Joe, do you share this enthusiasm?

    JOSEPH RAGO, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL: No, I don't think so. I think Gingrich has his schtick. You know, I don't...

    MOORE: Schtick?

    RAGO: Real fundamental change, Paul, dramatic change. This is the most important election since 1932, if not 1860. But you know, he combines this rhetoric, this very expansive, inflammatory rhetoric a lot of times with very timid policy proposals. So he gives the impression of doing too much while achieving nothing in practice.

    GIGOT: Seems more radical than actually he really is. Give us an example of that.

    RAGO: A real good one is Medicare reform. You know, just a few months ago, his grenade detonated when he went after Paul Ryan's Medicare reform for premium support and said, you know, It's too radical, no one's going to accept it.

    GIGOT: Called it Republican social engineering.

    RAGO: Exactly. And then if you look at his own Medicare proposal, it's actually more timid than Newt...

    GIGOT: Romney.

    RAGO: ... Mitt Romney. So...


    GIGOT: ... because it would preserve the traditional Medicare program, instead of requiring everyone to get a fixed payment from the government...

    MOORE: But you know...