Newt Gingrich

November 11, 2011 by staff 

Newt Gingrich,
Newt Gingrich’s campaign imploded in June. Now he’s third-and-climbing in the polls. Could he wind up being the last Republican standing?

On June 9, 2011*, Newt Gingrich’s senior campaign staff resigned en masse. In response, Gingrich decided to tour behind his new movie and make unorthodox “campaign stops” in places like Hawaii, a state which has nothing to do with early Republican primaries and everything to do with nice vacations. Political hacks of all stripes wrote him off. He was an old-news blowhard striving to become a “policy mover” in the camp of whoever wound up winning. Like Joe Biden, he’d shot himself in the foot early on. Like Joe Biden, he was probably reduced to running for Vice-President.

But history has a funny way of screwing with those who cite it in the presidential primaries. Now, magnanimous, safe, wonky Newt Gingrich looks less like Joe Biden and more like John Kerry, the eventual 2004 nominee. Kerry sat back in a furious party that had lost its way and won the Iowa caucuses on the dual premises that (a) he was a nice guy and (b) everybody else’s campaign had imploded more recently. Gingrich is taking a page out of Kerry’s playbook and molding it with the non-traditional shooting-star successes of his fellow 2012 non-Romney candidates and hoping that he’ll be the eventual winner of the roll of the dice come the Iowa caucuses on January 3. The strangest thing is, he just might be.

Right now, Republicans are struggling between two poles: electability and ideology. At the extremes of the former pole stands… well, you could argue that Jon Huntsman really stands there, but his campaign is so ineffectual as to eliminate him from serious consideration, so it’s Mitt Romney, with his sweeping claims of executive experience and heaps of money. On the other hand, Romney’s weaknesses to the Republican base (like his potential big-business albatross in a populist political climate, his potential Manchurian Candidate-style liberalism as the architect of Romneycare, and, yes, his religion) have left many Republicans feeling like Matt Wuerker’s cartoon that Politico published yesterday: even though he’s running away with the nomination, they desperately want Anyone But Mitt.

For awhile, they were lazily content with the idea that “another challenger” could always hop in. Even after the amazing meteor that was Rick Perry’s entry into the race, many rank-and-file conservatives still held out some kind of hope that someone other than Romney would sneak in and be their perfect simultaneously-rabidly-conservative-and-yet-somehow-electable candidate. Now, though, the dates to get on the ballot have come and gone, and Republican voters are stuck: after Romney won the last Republican debate with a weak performance that demonstrated how much he could get pounced on in the general, particularly with spit-out lines like “I’m running for office, for Pete’s sake!”, they’re left with the current less-than-ideal crop to pick an anti-Mitt from if they really think Romney is not going to represent their interests.

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