Lazarus is raised (again).

The inevitability of a Romney nomination hit a serious speed bump Saturday in South Carolina. That speed bump got put in place on the preceding Monday as a result of a stunningly effective debate performance by former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich.

In a four-minute and thirty second exchange between Gingrich and Fox News moderator Juan Williams, the fundamental choice that will be on offer in the November election was displayed in sharp relief. An articulate and passionate real-world illustration given by Gingrich in answer to a race-tinged question put forth by Williams electrified the audience and had immediate impact in the polls.

Save for his facility at the lectern, Gingrich is no Ronald Reagan. His personal history is a tawdry soap opera. He is the only speaker ever to be disciplined by the House. He lacks Reagan’s sunny disposition and lightly-worn mantle of happy warrior. His campaign is often in disarray and few of his former House colleagues still support him.

But his performance in South Carolina proved that the principles of what has come to be called “Reagan Conservatism” still have enormous power among Republican voters, and, when articulated as effectively as Gingrich managed Monday, have the power to change the course of elections.

Conservatives got what they have been yearning for from Gingrich last week. They rewarded him accordingly.

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