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Matthews: Obama won't go down without a fight

Let me finish tonight with this.

Let me finish tonight with this. "What does not kill him, makes him stronger." If that line by Friedrich Nietzsche proves correct, God help the Republicans trying to put away Newt Gingrich.

The more Mitt Romney and the others attack the former Speaker of the House about his past, the more it makes himself into the man to beat right now.  They throw the kitchen sink at him and he uses it to wash his hands.

This could be a predictor of the fight to come.  If Newt gets past his Republican rivals, he will be stronger than he is now.  If the President and his people then begin the same assault, they may look to be shifting attention from the problems the country's voters are feeling now to the distant story of how Newt performed back in the 1990s.  The effect might be precisely what happened when President Carter attacked Ronald Reagan, not for his economic proposals in 1980 but for his opposition to Medicare back in the early 1960s.  

Going after Reagan's past instead of his present was what earned him the attack line that killed Carter: "There you go again, Mr. President," that dismissive put-down that said, "You poor, desperate politician clinging to office is tired old charges that mean nothing to the guy out there looking for a job.  

So pay sharp attention to this little preliminary bout this weekend.  The pre-Christmas Republican debate Saturday night will be the first time we get to see Mitt throw his best punch.   If he does throw it, it better hit home.  If he doesn't throw it, he will be accused of pulling a Pawlenty, he being the former Minnesota governor who promised to go after Romney - didn't do it - and was, overnight, out of the race.

This campaign is getting serious.   It's picking up the pace and it's showing more and more with each narrowing of the fight the kind of brawl we're going to get in four national debates this autumn.  

Ready, get set.  The worst is yet to come, also the best chance to see what Barack Obama's made of.   I don't think it's sugar candy.