The Newt Question

Posted By Elgin Hushbeck

There is a huge gulf between the rank and file conservatives and Republicans leaders both in and out of Washington the over Newt Gingrich.    As Newt has taken off in the polls so has the opposition from Republican leaders.  So why are the rank and file conservatives ignoring the leadership?   The reason is actually pretty simple.  Republican leadership, particularly in Washington, have failed time and time again. Even at its best Republican leadership has been very weak.  True this does not apply to all of Newt opponents, and in fact some of those outside of Washington have been very vocal in their complaints against the Washington Republican establishment.  But the primary opposition to Newt is from a leadership who in the past have given us such stellar candidates as McCain, Bush, Dole and Bush.  Time and time again Republicans have said trust us, we know what we are doing, only to start backtracking as soon as a negative editorial appears in the Mainstream Media (MSM). 

This year the establishment candidate is Romney.  Not a bad guy.  He might even be a little better than the last Bush.  But then that is not saying much. Sure Bush did ok on the War on terror and got his tax cuts, but while he fought the war generally well, he fail to lead the country, leaving it to the Democrats to define our involvement.    On the domestic front he ran up spending, nowhere near what Obama has, but he still increased it by passing new entitlements.  In short, he is a prime reason we ended up with Obama in the first place. 

So now the establishment wants us to sign on to a one time liberal Republican who now claims to be conservative.  Perhaps now he is;  but is it any wonder that rank and file conservatives are underwhelmed and looking elsewhere? 

So they have tried Bachmann, who was immediately pushed to the side by the entrance of Perry, who fell flat on his face, to be replaced by Cain, who was driven from the race by a series of questionable accusations.   While Paul has a enough money and organization to make an impact in states like Iowa, he is a libertarian posing as a Republican and thus can never be anything but a spoiler.   That leaves Santorum and Newt, and perhaps a second look at Bachmann, who was more overshadowed by Perry’s entrance than actually falling from favor, though her initial attacks on Perry didn’t help her.

Of these three, it has been Newt who in all of the debates has best voiced a clear consistent defense of conservative positions.  It was Newt who consistently made the points that resonated in days following the debates.   He repeated showed an ability to take on the MSM, rather than play into their loaded questions. 

In short he has run the type of campaign that conservatives have longed for:  a solid critique of democratic policies combined with a clear, positive and forceful defense of conservative values.   Newt is currently doing so well simply because in this race, he has done this far better than any of the other candidates.

In response, the Republican leaders both in and out of Washington have pointed to Newt’s past but so far with little success.  Sure Newt has strayed into the tall grass from time to time, but he also has a pretty long and clear track record of conservatism.  Trying to claim that Newt is really a liberal in disguise, is like Democrats trying to claim that Obama is a moderate because he has not already implemented all the left’s position.    In addition, while the leaders point to Newt’s past as evidence that he is not a really a conservative, they also are saying that we should ignore much of Romney’s past as unimportant.

Perhaps more importantly Newt connects with people. Right or wrong you get the impression that he is expressing what he really believes, as opposed to Romney who comes across as someone delivering a speech, or saying the latest poll tested line.   He does it well, yet one is never quite sure if it was the past Romney or the current Romney who was saying things he needed to say just to get elected.

As proof of his lack of conservative values Newt’s opponents claim that he lost the speakership when conservatives rebelled because he was too liberal.  Perhaps,  but it  is really hard to make the case that the Post-Newt house, a house that ultimately had so discredited itself with overspending that they lost the majority in 2006, was a more conservative body than the house under  Newt, which cut taxes, balanced the budget and  pushed through welfare reform.   Yes they were defeated in the budget shutdown, but frankly the conservative rank and file don’t have congressional seats to loose, and so would rather fight and sometime be defeated than the current strategy of never fighting unless victory is assured, and sometimes not even then.

The bottom line is that the rank and file wants someone who will stand up for them, and the Republican leadership as a whole has not done this.   Frankly, should Newt get the nomination, his greatest danger will not be Obama, the Democrats, or to be redundant, the MSM.  It will be the Republican leadership who will start attacking and undermining his campaign from the right, the way they did with Sharon Angle, and Christine O’Donnell.  To be sure, this is not true of all of Newt’s opponents, but it is true of a number of them.  These are the people who are the first to call for party unity following a primary victory of an establishment candidate, but who never see any obligation to reciprocate when the establishment candidate losses.  For these people, it is far more important to be able to say “I told you so” than to say “We won!”

Since Romney will likely win New Hampshire,  the way to defeat him will be to win in Iowa, beat expectation in New Hampshire, and then win big enough in the other early states leading up to Super Tuesday so as to win the majority there.   While it is not impossible for Bachmann or Santorum to do this, currently Newt has the best chance.

A surge for Bachmann, Santorum, or even Paul this late in the game, will most likely only muddle the returns from the early states, dragging the race out. This would benefit Romney as he has the money, the organization and the backing of the establishment to go the distance.   This is why Romney is still the mostly likely candidate to win the nomination.   Newt has a shot, but even with his lead in the polls, the odds are against him as the establishment is hard to beat.

Dec 15th, 2011

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