MANCHESTER, N.H. — The once-bursting 2012 Republican presidential field is narrowing to a two-man race, and GOP voters have one month before casting the first votes to winnow it to one. Barring a dramatic new turn, their chief options will be the steady but often bland demeanor of Mitt Romney and the idea-a-minute bombast of Newt Gingrich.
Herman Cain’s suspension of his campaign Saturday and Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s continued struggles to regain traction have focused the party’s attention on Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, and Gingrich, the former House speaker. They offer striking contrasts in personality, government experience and campaign organization, with Gingrich having only a scant infrastructure in the early voting states.
At a town hall meeting in New York sponsored by tea party supporters, Gingrich declined to characterize the race as a direct contest between himself and Romney. Any of the remaining GOP contenders could stage a comeback before the Iowa caucuses, Gingrich said, just as he had after his campaign nearly imploded last summer.
“I’m not going to say that any of my friends can’t suddenly surprise us,” Gingrich said, noting that Texas Rep. Ron Paul has a strong organization in Iowa and Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann is an Iowa native.