2012 Update: A Newt Gingrich Resurgence

Over the last week, Newt Gingrich has made a comeback in the 2012 Republican nomination polling.  It was only months ago that he was dismissed as a campaign failure after much of his staff resigned his campaign, and reports were rampant about how it would end his shot at the nomination.  Now, he’s even beating Mitt Romney in one poll.  Can he win the nomination?

Newt Gingrich

Most commentators of the 2012 election have viewed Gingrich not as a serious candidate, but as a good person to have in the race.  He elevates the debate of the issues, because he has good ideas, but he doesn’t pose a serious threat to the frontrunners.  But now that he’s rising in the polls, will the sharp knives come out?

The Positive

There are many things that Gingrich has going for him to help him win the Republican nomination.  Paul Bedard, a columnist at U.S. News & World Report, lists 11 reasons why he thinks Gingrich is the right candidate:

  1. Ideas and solutions – “policy is Newt’s strength.  He is well known for his constant generation of ideas and solutions.”
  2. He has solved many of these problems before – he handled job creation, the economy and the deficit as Speaker.
  3. Bipartisanship – he was able to work with President Clinton in 1995 to create jobs and manage the economy.
  4. Understands the difficulties of the presidency
  5. He knows how to run a large operation – he’s already run one of the branches of government, and he’s run a massive campaign on a large scale before (1994).
  6. He’s the party’s idea man
  7. He creatively uses the latest communication technologies, whether it be Twitter, Facebook, or just regular e-mail.
  8. Resources won’t be a problem – he’s a proven fundraiser.
  9. He has conservative credentials
  10. Lessons learned – “Since leaving the speakership, Newt has spent time reflecting on things he did right and wrong to figure out the lessons he needed to learn to be better—both politically and personally.”
  11. Callista, his third wife

A high-profile editorial in the Wall Street Journal this week by Dorothy Rabinowitz was highly complimentary of a speech that Gingrich gave to the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition in October (the video of that speech is below):

Mr. Gingrich launched into a lethal thumbnail description of the Obama administration’s energy policy. The president, he said, had gone to Brazil and told the Brazilians he was really glad they were drilling offshore and that he would like America to be their best customer. “The job of the American president,” Mr. Gingrich told the panel, “is not to be a purchasing agent for a foreign country—it’s to be a salesman for the United States of America.”

The former speaker of the House is a dab hand at drawing listeners in, for good reason—he showers them with details, facts and history in a degree no candidate in recent memory has even approached. Audiences have a way of rewarding such trust.

No one listening that night to candidate Gingrich’s reflections on the menace of radical judges from Lincoln’s time on down could have ignored the power of his fiery assessment—including the Dred Scott decision, others by courts today that threaten our national security, and much in between.

 

The Negative

Some of the things that make Newt (why does he seem to be the only candidate that is referred to by his first name instead of his last name?) attractive can also make him unattractive.  For instance, his long public service record can be a good thing, but it can also make enemies.

Dr. James Lindsay, a Senior Vice President at the Council on Foreign Relations, lists four reasons why Newt cannot win the presidency:

    1. He has alienated people who can help him win.  Sarah Palin isn’t a Gingrich fan.  She referred to him and other Republican colleagues in a 2009 email as “egotistical, narrow-minded machine goons.”
    2. He can’t stay on message.  Gingrich’s fits of pique derailed his speakership.
    3. He has a long political history, emphasis on long.  Republicans are hungering for a fresh face.  Gingrich is anything but.
    4. His, ahem, complicated personal history.  Gingrich has been divorced twice and has admitted to infidelity.  That’s a high hurdle to overcome in American politics.  His explanation for what he agrees were poor choices is the he loved America too much.

Steve Chapman, at Townhall.com, contends that Newt’s chief problem is that he is a “demagogue:”

Throughout his career, Gingrich has done his best to ingratiate himself with the most rabid ideologues in the GOP. In 1990, he advised fellow House Republicans to refer to Democrats with such words as “sick,” “pathetic,” “destructive,” “anti-family” and “traitors.”

He has never lost his penchant for bombast, vitriol and shameless invention. He says Obama “doesn’t even have the courage to tell truth about who wants to kill us” and accuses him of “pandering to radical Islam.” He claimed that in December, because Congress and Obama agreed to extend the tax cuts, “the economy improved overnight” — “literally.”

There is no claim so reckless or implausible that Gingrich will not make it, with an air of complete certitude. That’s the true mark of the demagogue. He is incapable of measured judgments.

 

The Bottom Line

There are as many opponents of Newt as there are proponents, and this fact is borne out in his high negatives in polling data.  In order to win the Republican nomination, and the general election, Newt must overcome the disaster of his personal life, must learn to stay on message, and must use every change to turn his knowledge of policy and his debating skills to his advantage.  I’m just not sure that he can overcome infidelity and two divorces to convince the Republican primary voters to put him forth as their opponent to President Obama.

Question: Would you vote for Newt Gingrich for president, either in a primary or the general election?  You can leave your comment by clicking here.

  • http://brocmiddleton.blogspot.com/ Broc Middleton

    Newt is on a glorified book tour, nothing more…you are really trying to polish a turd on this one. 

    • http://bobewoldt.com Robert Ewoldt

      Why do you say he’s on a glorified book tour?

      • http://brocmiddleton.blogspot.com/ Broc Middleton

        http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0711/60136.html

        “…Gingrich has long taken heat about his distracted approach to his White House run. But he’s refused to let campaigning stop him from promoting his movies and books — even after frustrations about doing so were reportedly one factor in his massive staff exodus last month. While other candidates who have been trailing in the polls have been maximizing their time on the stump, Gingrich has regularly carved out time to pump up his other products…”

        “…There’s a long history of combining book tours and campaigning, and the 2012 candidates have kept up the tradition. Tim Pawlenty kicked off his presidential exploration with a book tour. Mike Huckabee promoted his latest book while flirting with a presidential run, and Donald Trump tied his own 2012 tease to pumping up “The Apprentice.” But no one has kept up a tour as intensely after launching a campaign as Gingrich…”
         
        Take a look at all those names… Pawlenty, Huckabee, Trump.  I don’t see any winners of Republican Presidential Nomination in that bunch and Gingrich won’t be an exception because his real goal is not to win but to make some money.    

        http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/on-campaign-trail-gingrich-bolsters-his-brand/2011/09/28/gIQA0rlV7K_story.html
         
        “…Federal election law allows candidates to use small portions of their campaign money to promote their books. But the cross-promotion, and the impression that Gingrich is not campaigning heavily, has prompted speculation that his efforts are motivated by something other than a desire to become president…”
         
        “…Gingrich says he has done nothing improper by intertwining his campaign with his promotional activities, and during his remarks at an event in Doylestown this week he emphasized that he is committed to his presidential campaign — but not before giving a plug to his wife’s book, “Sweet Land of Liberty,” featuring Ellis the Elephant…”
         

        Like we discussed during your “power rankings” of Republican candidates, there are serious candidates and the rest of the field.  Newt while knowledgeable is not a serious candidate for President.  He is just the next flavor of the month.  You want to review the list of flavors you Republicans have gone through …Sarah Palin (I think I called her not running, gaffes galore), Donald Trump (he wanted rating for his Apprentice show, plus the “birther” non sense) , Michelle Bachman (If the HPV vaccine comment didn’t kill her campaign something else would have, like her stance on homosexuality), Rich Perry (dude can’t remember his own agenda, and his economic policy is insane j/k) , Herman Cain (has ZERO, yes ZERO foreign policy knowledge and that isn’t even discussing his other ridiculous gaffes ) .  So now you want to bring Newt in and expect me to believe he is a serious candidate? Get real Bob.  I have been saying it since the beginning… Jon Huntsman is the ONLY other candidate, in the current field, besides Mitt Romney who should have a chance to win this nomination. 
         

        • http://bobewoldt.com Robert Ewoldt

          I’m not sure that Newt is a serious candidate, but the reason that he would not be a serious candidate is NOT because he’s promoting his books on the side. The reasons that I think he would not be a serious candidate are listed in the post. I think that “he’s only on a book tour” is a flimsy argument against him, at best.

          In terms of “flavor of the month” and “gaffe” candidates, I agree with you… to a certain extent. However, Barack Obama was such a candidate in 2008, until he emerged as the Democratic nominee for president. Hillary Clinton was to the 2008 Democratic nomination fight what Mitt Romney is to today’s Republican nomination fight. Everyone else was a side-show… until they weren’t.

          Every candidate also has gaffes… Obama had multiple gaffes in 2008, including:

          – Saying that he had visited “57 states”
          – He said that a tornado in Kansas had killed 10,000 people, when it actually only killed 12.
          – He had a famous gaffe in San Francisco about small-town voters, saying “it’s not surprising that they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them”
          – He had another famous gaffe with “Joe the Plumber” about “spreading the wealth around”
          – Referring to a language called “Austrian,” which doesn’t exist
          – Stating that he was on the Senate Banking Committee, which he was not.
          – “Let me be absolutely clear: Israel is a strong friend of Israel’s. It
          will be a strong friend of Israel’s under a McCain… administration. It
          will be a strong friend of Israel’s under an Obama administration. So that
          policy is not going to change.”
          – “Let me introduce you to the next President — the next Vice President
          of the United States of America, Joe Biden” (at their first joint campaign
          rally).
          – “On this Memorial Day, as our nation honors its unbroken line of fallen
          heroes — and I see many of them in the audience here today — our sense of
          patriotism is particularly strong.”

          In fact, I think that the most common adjective ascribed to Vice President
          Biden is “gaffe-prone” :) But gaffes don’t necessarily stop someone from
          being the nominee, nor from becoming president.

          I would say that the only reason Jon Hunstman hasn’t had any gaffes in the
          campaign is that nobody is watching him. Jon Huntsman will not be the
          Republican nominee, because he can’t distinguish himself from Mitt Romney,
          and he’s running as a moderate. Republican primary voters will not
          vote for him for those reasons. And the reason that Mitt Romney cannot
          seem to get above 25% in the polls is because Republican primary voters are
          looking for a conservative alternative to him. If/when they find that
          alternative, they will vote for him/her. If Romney can split the vote in
          Iowa, win New Hampshire, and do well in several other of the early states,
          while not giving another candidate a solid foothold, then he will be the
          nominee.

          • http://brocmiddleton.blogspot.com/ Broc Middleton

            Regarding Newt, we both agree that he won’t be the Republican Nominee so I propose there isn’t much of a purpose to debate his reasons for running.

            We can disagree in our assessment of the Republican field, but I am sticking with Jon Huntsman.  Huntsman can easily separate himself from Mitt Romney in many areas; his foreign policy experience, his economic plan which brought praise from and the Wall-Street Journal as the BEST economic plan of all the candidates, additional bringing praise from prominent right wing blogger Erick Erickson, also his CONSISTANT positions against Romney’s epic flip-flopping on the issues, His REAL record of job creation as governor of Utah (ranked #1) against Mitt Romney’s (ranking #47) .  I think it will take time for the American public to catch on, but if you compare the resumes’ of any other candidate to Jon Huntsman’s he will be a strong nominee.  All of this is leaving out that Jon Huntsman MAY be the only candidate with real crossover appeal to INP and even some DEM’s,  which is kind of important if you want the Republican nominee to actually win against Obama in 2012.
             
            I want a Republican candidate that will really compete with Obama, could compete with Obama for voters.  Most of these other yahoos won’t elevate the national debate but just increase the partisanship because they are not moderates on any level. 

          • http://bobewoldt.com Robert Ewoldt

            I think that Newt could be the Republican nominee, if he does the following things:

            1. Mends fences with the people that he’s alienated, from whom he needs support in order to win the general election.
            2. Show that he can stay on message. He seems to have been doing this pretty well during this campaign.
            3. He needs to show that he can withstand the heat that comes from being the front-runner. He needs to have answers to the mistakes that he’s made over his career, personally as well as professionally. I think that, in this respect, he has a hard hill to climb with Christian conservatives that have a problem with his admitted infidelity (unlike Bill Clinton with the Democrat base in 1992).

          • http://brocmiddleton.blogspot.com/ Broc Middleton

            Yes personal issues…he left his first wife while see was recovering from cancer, and as if that isn’t bad enough to leave your partner while they recover from caner, he cheated on his 2nd wife, now is on his 3rd wife, all the while talks family values, and BEST of all his reason for cheating on his wife……HE LOVED AMERICA TOO MUCH. How does that work?  Honey I love you, but my love for America is forcing me to cheat on you?  America is another woman’s va-jay-jay?  The absolute insanity of even thinking that let alone saying it publically should disqualify him, on the basis of complete stupidity!

          • http://bobewoldt.com Robert Ewoldt

            First, from what I’ve read, the whole “he left his first wife while she was recovering from cancer” is an absolute fabrication of a story. Her daughter has come out and said that it was her mother that wanted the divorce, not Newt ( http://www.outsidethebeltway.com/correcting-the-record-newt-gingrich-didnt-divorce-his-first-wife-while-she-had-cancer/ ).

            I agree, though, that him being unfaithful is the strongest case against him. It didn’t stop the Democrats from nominating Bill Clinton (twice), but the Republicans have a higher moral standard for their candidates, and that’s going to be the biggest thing for him to overcome. He admitted to James Dobson in 2007 that he had cheated on his second wife. Here’s a quote that he gave the Politico on March 27, 2011 regarding his affair:
            ““People have to measure, at 67, have I matured? Am I person that they can trust and rely on as a leader? And discipline is part of it,” Gingrich said. “And I think that’s a legitimate question. And I expect the American people will in the end be remarkably fair.”

            “They’ll render judgment and they’ll decide whether or not Newt Gingrich is someone who can solve the country’s problems and can be the kind of leader they want for this country,” he added, speaking in the third person. “I don’t think I’m perfect. I’ve admitted that I’ve had problems. I’ve admitted that I’ve sought forgiveness, but I also think that over time if
            you look at my total record I’m a pretty effective leader.”

            Lastly, if we’re disqualifying candidates for being stupid, then there
            probably wouldn’t be a Democratic party…

            I couldn’t resist…

          • http://bobewoldt.com Robert Ewoldt

            I’m not trying to explain away his indiscretions… that’s just to say that he’s at the mercy of the voters’ forgiveness.

          • http://bobewoldt.com Robert Ewoldt

            One more thing he needs to do… he needs to continue to promote Republican unity, as he has been doing so far in the campaign, and refusing to take cheap shots at his Republican opponents.

          • http://brocmiddleton.blogspot.com/ Broc Middleton

            I saw an interview last night on CNN with Newt where he is claiming NOT to be a Washington DC insider…really? How long as he been in Congress?  How long has he lived in DC?  Come on Newt!
            P.S. The shot at the dems made me laugh. 

          • http://bobewoldt.com Robert Ewoldt

            I thought that might make you smile :)

            Newt represented Georgia for 20 years from 1979-1999, when he resigned from Congress after the Republicans lost seats in the midterms. So, he’s been out of Washington for at least 12 years. I guess he has as much claim on being an “outsider” as just about anyone. Kind of ironic… a former Washington insider leaving the life, then running for President as an outsider.

          • Broc Middleton

            I am not sure I would use the word “ironic” to describe it….perhaps bogus or fallacy.