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Matthews on the 'intrigue' of the 2012 race

There's intrigue afoot in the race for president.

There's intrigue afoot in the race for president. Try these two undercurrents now running out there, one on the Democratic side, the other on the Republican.

The biggest mistake you can make in politics is to assume that the other side thinks like you do. They're the other exactly because they don't see things the way you do.  That's why they're over there. Look at the Republicans going - lunging - for Newt Gingrich.  Democrats think they're crazy.  Why would they dry-gulch a solid center-righter like Romney - who might be able to grab the middle-of-the-roaders - and go for a divider like Gingrich? 

It makes no sense, Democrats figure, for the Republicans to pick a nominee who's so angry, so spewing on venom, that he can't possibly win the center. But look at it from the conservative's point of view.  Why not pick a candidate who represents me?  Why not have as our nominee someone who's as angry as I am, as upset with the economy, as disgusted with President Obama?  Why can't we nominate someone who feels like I do?

That hatred of Obama and wanting to have it in the Republican candidate is a powerful reality today, one that shows more and more in each new poll.  It's not just about what Republican conservatives are thinking; it's what they're feeling. Now to the second undercurrent, the one on the Democratic side.  Democrats who want Obama re-elected, seem to prefer Newt Gingrich as the nominee, believing that he'll be easier to beat? They think Mitt Romney is too close to the center for safety. 

But be careful what you wish for. Those of us working for President Carter thought Ronald Reagan would be far easier to take down than the senior George Bush.  It turns out that we were wrong.  It could just be that the Republican undercurrent of deep personal and ideological hatred of the President will set the course, not just for the caucus and primary trail, but the whole shebang.