Associated Press
Republican presidential candidate, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich arrives at a Tea Party Rally, Thursday, Jan. 26, 2012, in Mount Dora, Fla.

Matt Drudge is on the warpath. The conservative mega-blogger is functioning as a one-man virtual Super PAC, driving story after story after story critical of Newt Gingrich, challenging his claim to the conservative mantle. A few of Drudge's nuggets ...

Drudge's dominant image Thursday is that of Reagan linked to a National Review article with anti-Reagan quotes from the 1980s: “Measured against the scale and momentum of the Soviet empire’s challenge, the Reagan administration has failed, is failing, and without a dramatic change in strategy will continue to fail. . . . President Reagan is clearly failing.” Gingrich claimed the CIA, State and Defense “have no strategies to defeat the empire.” But of course “the burden of this failure frankly must be placed first on President Reagan.” He also called Reagan’s meeting with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev “the most dangerous summit for the West since Adolf Hitler met with Neville Chamberlain in 1938 in Munich.”

Drudge also links R. Emmet Tyrel over at the fiercely conservative American Spectator, who castigates the man he calls William Jefferson Gingrich: "Newt and Bill, as 1960s generation self-promoters, share the same duplicity, ostentatious braininess, (and) a propensity for endless scrapes with propriety and the law. They are tireless hustlers."

Ann Coulter, who has been openly supporting Romney for weeks, continues to pound the electability theme. Gingrich is simply unelectable, she says: "Romney is 'moderate' only in demeanor — which is just another word game. His positions are more conservative than Gingrich's, but he doesn't scare people like Gingrich does."

Drudge's page is also sprinkled with numerous other tidbits challenging Gingrich, including more on his messy divorce history.

The Drudge outburst seems to reflect a growing sense among the conservative opinion commentariat that Gingrich as nominee is a serious liability in a pivotal election year, a fact the GOP base has yet to fully grasp. The pundits apparently view themselves as the sober older sibling warning a starry-eyed sister about the hot guy on the Harley who's been around enough to leave a mark.

Eric Schulzke writes on national politics for the Deseret News. He can be contacted at