Nightly News | December 04, 2011
>>> to go until the iowa caucuses , the shifting sands of the race for the republican presidential nomination appear to be firming up tonight. with the latest breakout candidate, newt gingrich capitalizing on his recent surge, and now ron paul becoming a candidate to watch as we draw closer to primary season. the latest nbc news marist poll of two key early voting states conducted before herman cain 's abrupt departure from the race yesterday, is framing a contest far different than what we were looking at only a few weeks ago. nbc 's mike viqueira has the numbers and more.
>> reporter: newt gingrich this weekend, campaigning with the confidence of a front-runner.
>> i represent the world that works. obama is the world that fails.
>> reporter: with less than a month before the iowa caucus , gingrich now sits atop a new nbc marist poll, surging 21 points since october. mitt romney is down 8 to 18. ron paul is a major factor at 17%. and in new hampshire, romney still leads but gingrich had surged there too, up 19 to 23%, followed by paul and jon huntsman . the move comes a day after herman cain , appearing with wife glor gloria, effectively ended his run.
>> i am suspending my presidential campaign because of the continued distraction, the continued hurt caused on me and my family.
>> reporter: as the cain controversy took its toll on the former front-runner, gingrich was building steam.
>> in many ways the anybody but romney sentiment has really coalesced around the gingrich candidacy.
>> reporter: today gingrich rivals called his business and personal conduct into question.
>> we want someone who is actually going to fight washington, not someone who has been paid over $100 million in one year alone to influence it.
>> i think character is definitely an issue. you know, i think they have to make a decision based upon the person's entire record. and certainly character counts.
>> reporter: mitt romney campaigned door to door in new hampshire this weekend, and though his nomination is by no means clear, today he was the main target of the obama campaign .
>> he seems to think every day is a new day that he can simply change all of his positions depending on who his audience is or what the political circumstances and that is not what you want in a president of the united states . is that an issue? yes, that's an issue.
>> reporter: and, lester, as the campaign measures there is more gridlock in washington over extending the payroll tax cuts due to expire at the end of this month. now, the president and congressional republicans agree that they should be extended, but disagree on how to pay for it. it could cost as much as $300 billion next year to do so. if they can't come to a deal by the end of the month, it would mean an extra $1,000 in taxes next year for the average american family. lester?
>> mike viqueira, thanks. for more