With Newt Gingrich surging to the top of many polls, clearly his momentum has caused other candidates to try to take a different tack in order to gain, or regain, some traction. Oddly, it seems like everyone who is trying to differentiate themselves is taking the same sort of approach.
Rick Perry put out a video about Obama's war on religion. It's a clever jab at Newt as much as it is at the president. His point is that he occupies the moral high ground for Christians - Obama doesn't and neither does Newt.
Ron Paul said he's a friend to Israel in an effort to comfort those who feel he may be abandoning an ally but the unspoken subtext is the connection between the Jewish nation and a predominantly Christian America. Paul also is trying to kill two birds with one stone.
And even Mitt Romney started spouting moral credentials of his family life with religious overtones.
The rationale is clear - Newt is perceived as being weak on the moral card because of his divorces and because of the ethics probe (even though the IRS eventually cleared him). What's puzzling about the efforts though, is that everyone in the race seems to be crowding into the same territory as the not-Newt option. They are still competing for the same space and the net result probably benefits Gingrich more than any of his opponents. If a voter decides that Newt's morality isn't sound enough, he can only go to one of the three candidates tacking in the morality direction. They are still competing amongst themselves for that same single voter.
If one were to tack into the healthcare mandate direction, another the morality direction and the third in some other direction, collectively they might disperse the Gingrich support enough to turn it back into a real race. As it stands, with time running out before the first primary they may have ended up tripping all over themselves in a rush to the obvious place to be.
Parenthetically, none of this has anything to do with their plans for saving America, it's all about positioning themselves for the primaries. There's nothing wrong with having a strategy, in fact it's necessary. But it's important to keep in mind that the longer the GOP stays off message - the economy - the easier the ride becomes for Obama.