At CPAC in 2011, Newt Gingrich took the stage to the stirring sound of Survivor's 1980's rock anthem "Eye of the Tiger." He walked deliberately through the crowd. Here was Caesar returning from the wars.
Friday, Gingrich will speak again at the same gathering, but the conservative who most deserves the dramatic, fist-pumping greeting is his presidential rival Rick Santorum: the lonely warrior who has triumphed without playing a soundtrack of self-regard, without the ready millions of Gingrich's gambling-magnate patron, and despite more derision from the elite media than Gingrich has faced.
Has Rick Santorum eclipsed Newt Gingrich as the conservative alternative to Mitt Romney? Santorum didn't just pull off a hat trick in Colorado, Minnesota, and Missouri, he trounced Newt Gingrich, besting him by more than 20 points in each state. Those victories appear to have been the start of a conservative rallying toward a single candidate. If that's so, Gingrich should take the advice he was just a week ago offering Santorum: Get out of the race now to ensure that there is a single conservative alternative to Mitt Romney.Continue »
Mitt Romney sure hopes there's a safety net. His campaign needs it. His cautious and measured run for the presidency has been thrown off stride by Rick Santorum's victories Tuesday in Minnesota, Colorado and Missouri.
The GOP nominating race has become a clash of vampires and zombies. Candidates like Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich appear to die only to rise again, while Mitt Romney walks around not quite alive. In the wild narrative authored by cranky voters (who must not have heard the smart people who declared the race over months ago), the newest plot line is the battle between Rick Santorum, a candidate defined by his conviction, and Mitt Romney, one who has been defined by his lack of same.Continue »
Did the first Obama re-election ad run during the Super Bowl? You might have missed it since the president wasn't even mentioned. It was a Chrysler ad, although even that wasn't obvious. Instead, more than 111 million viewers were greeted by that tough-talking American icon Clint Eastwood as he delivered what amounted to a locker room speech to the country.
"It's halftime in America," he intoned, as the New York Giants and New England Patriots went in for their midgame break. He heralded the auto industry's revival and said it is a model for a nation poised for a comeback. By the end of the stirring message, pollsters could probably have found a majority of the country ready to elect the city of Detroit president.Continue »
This will be a tough month for Newt Gingrich. The former House speaker has lost momentum following his win in South Carolina, he lacks free media opportunities and he can't match Mitt Romney in money or organization -- as the race heads into states that are strong for Romney.
Below, five key reasons why February will be challenging for Gingrich's campaign:
Romney friendly landscape: There are eight caucuses or primaries in the five weeks between Florida's vote and the "Super Tuesday" group of 10 contests on March 6 (Super Tuesday isn't what it once was; there used to be 21 states voting on that day). Nevada, Missouri, Minnesota, Colorado, Maine, Michigan, Arizona and Washington are the states, representing 250 delegates (there are 437 on Super Tuesday). Romney won five of the eight last time: Nevada, Minnesota, Colorado, Maine and Michigan. He came in second to favorite son McCain in Arizona and dropped out before Washington.Continue »
Mitt Romney is now being protected by the Secret Service. Unfortunately for him, they were not in a position to jump in front of his comments Wednesday morning. The day after his Florida triumph, Romney told CNN: "I'm not concerned about the very poor. We have a safety net there. If it needs repair, I'll fix it. I'm not concerned about the very rich, they're doing just fine. I'm concerned about the very heart of America, the 90 percent, 95 percent of Americans who right now are struggling."
This statement is striking for many reasons. Most are obvious--it is thoroughly ham-fisted for a politician to ever say he doesn't care about part of the electorate, particularly the "very poor." Everyone knows that much. But Romney's gaffe signals something more about the general election to come. As it looks more likely that Obama and Romney will square off, we are faced with a new prospect: The 2012 presidential election may devolve into a battle between two aloof men trading charges about who is more out of touch.Continue »
Newt Gingrich promised Florida voters the moon and he crashed to earth.
Mitt Romney won the crucial state big with 46 percent of the vote, beating Gingrich by 14 points. In Brevard County, where Gingrich's pledge to build a lunar colony might have wooed voters who worked in the space industry, Romney won by 7 points.
Inevitability restored. Romney has won snowbird victories in New Hampshire and Florida. He won Florida with almost 50 percent of the vote, a key psychological threshold for a candidate whose detractors once said he had a ceiling of 25 percent. Romney now rolls on with bragging rights: He dominated the biggest contest to date in a state that is representative of the Republican coalition and that is the largest contested prize in the general election. And he rolls on with wheels that are made of money. As the Florida polls were closing, his campaign announced that it had raised $24 million in the fourth quarter to Gingrich's nearly $10 million. Romney has $20 million in the bank he can use.
Romney won by vast margins on the two key questions of the election. According to exit polls, among the 45 percent of voters who wanted someone who was in the best position to beat Obama, Romney won 58 percent to Gingrich's 32 percent. Among the 62 percent for whom the economy was the number one issue, Romney won 52 percent to Gingrich's 29.Continue »
Newt Gingrich is angry and that makes Mitt Romney sad. The former speaker is slipping badly in the polls in Florida and unloading on his way down. He's called Romney "deceitful," "maniacal," and "misleading." He's also rendered a historical verdict: Romney's campaign is the most dishonest he's ever seen. That cluster of deceit makes Romney unqualified to be president, says Gingrich. I asked Romney about these charges on his campaign bus Sunday night. "We look for qualities in a president. We don't look for whining and excuses," he said. "The wrong side of Newt Gingrich is being revealed, and it's actually quite sad and painful."
Painful to Newt Gingrich. Romney spoke, his hands in his lap, in the practiced more-in-sorrow-than-in-anger tone of a principal speaking about a student he gladly expelled. An adviser explained what was really going on: "We are not going to let our boot off Gingrich's neck."
It's working. Heading into Tuesday night's vote in Florida, Romney is ahead by double digits in a series of polls. (A Suffolk University poll has him up by 20 points.) Romney is up, and he's got Gingrich pinned down. It's not just that Romney's attacks are working. They are also robbing Gingrich of his voice. As a Gingrich ally explained, the sniping back and forth hurts Gingrich because it keeps him from offering the kind of positive message that helped him win in South Carolina. The wounded speaker is vowing to fight the battle all the way to the convention, questioning Romney's character all the way. If week after week of bitter rhetoric is the pattern for the primary to come, the question will not be whether Gingrich can win--he can't--but how much damage he does to Romney and the party.Continue »
This post originally appeared on Slate.
The Republican presidential candidate with the line of credit at Tiffany's is making fun of the candidate with the Swiss bank account. The one who got wealthy working the inside Washington game is whaling away at the one who got wealthy working the angles of high finance. The economic diversity at the top of the Republican field runs the gamut from A to B.
In the 2010 election, Florida was the epicenter of the struggle in the Republican Party between insiders and outsiders. Tea Party insurgent Marco Rubio won a Senate seat by trouncing establishment candidate Charlie Crist. But despite the outsider movement that briefly emboldened the Rick Perry and Herman Cain candidacies, the Republican primary has come down to a battle between two insiders. Whether Mitt Romney or Newt Gingrich wins the Florida primary on Jan. 31, it will be a triumph for men who have profited from knowing how to work the system.Continue »
This post originally appeared on Slate.
Mitt Romney may not drink, but he was loaded when he entered last night's debate in Jacksonville, Fla. He went after Newt Gingrich immediately and relentlessly. He scolded him, rendered him momentarily mute, and took answers about other topics and turned them into attacks on Gingrich on key issues like excessive government spending. Romney didn't just have good answers, he looked like a man in command of himself. His new debate coach Brett O'Donnell should double his fees.
There are now five days until the Florida primary, and state polls show that Romney and Gingrich are neck and neck. Newt Gingrich is up 9 points over Romney in the latest NBC/Wall Street Journal poll. Romney's strong performance will give him a little spring in his step and make his supporters feel like they're backing a winner again. Florida has 10 television markets, and if the editors and producers are good to Romney, he'll get about 12 hours of free coverage of the debate.
Romney was not flawless, but he showed aptitude over a wide range of subjects, learned new material, and adapted to the challenges he faces. For a candidate that has been called robotic he was nimble.Continue »
In the 2011 State of the Union, the president used the phrase "win the future" or a variant over and over and over again. A year later, the future is not won, but the slogan has lost.
"Built to last" was the message for the 2012 State of the Union speech. Despite continued unsteadiness in the economy, the slogan-manufacturing sector is healthy.Continue »
South Carolina went "Grandiose." Newt Gingrich, who embraced that word when it was used to describe him, won the Republican primary handily today with around 40 percent of the vote. Mitt Romney, who had been ahead by double digits in polls after the New Hampshire primary, received only 27 percent. Given Gingrich's overwhelming victory, it may be difficult for him to find a historical figure important enough to compare himself to.
Mitt Romney's smooth trip to the nomination has been interrupted. He has lost two of three contests. Voters have ratified the long-standing doubts about him. The non-Romney voters who had been splitting their vote now seem to have settled on Gingrich.
The surge we've all been sensing for Gingrich seems to be real. There were a lot of late deciders--53 percent--and 44 percent of them went for Gingrich. The debates did it. Sixty-five percent of voters said the debates mattered in helping them make their decision, and half of those voters went for Gingrich.
Republicans have long scoffed at Barack Obama's rhetorical skills, but in South Carolina, exit polls make it clear that Gingrich owes his surge to rhetoric. The Romney and Santorum campaigns have hammered him on his volatile personality and his chaotic leadership style. They've said that voters would be sorry in the fall when Gingrich loses to President Obama, or if Gingrich wins and then flames out in office. Those attacks didn't work.Continue »
CHARLESTON, S.C.-- Newt Gingrich said "No." Mitt Romney said "Maybe." And Rick Santorum said everything better than he has in any other debate. The last Republican debate before Saturday's South Carolina primary--and the first with just four candidates--was perhaps the most lively of the 17 that have come during this campaign.
It was a battle on two fronts: Front-runner Romney was attacked by his rivals, and Gingrich and Santorum skirmished repeatedly in order to emerge as the sole alternative to Romney. There were sharp exchanges over health care and temperament, over open marriages and closed borders.
The South Carolina primary is hours away, and the debate capped one of the nuttiest campaign days in recent memory. Mitt Romney's lead is slipping, but we don't know by how much. Iowa Republicans declared Santorum the new winner of their caucuses, overturning Romney's eight-vote victory. Rick Perry quit his campaign (perhaps just to avoid another debate) and endorsed Gingrich. Gingrich, the candidate of the moment, suddenly faced accusations from his ex-wife, who claimed he had advocated for an "open marriage," when he was having an affair with the woman who sat in the debate audience as his current wife.Continue »
Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich are both trying to help South Carolina voters imagine what will happen if Gingrich captures the nomination. In the Gingrich model, he crushes President Obama in the fall 2012 debates, wins a huge victory on Election Day, and prepares the country for fundamental change. In the Romney vision, the undisciplined Gingrich clatters into the fall surrounded by the wreckage of his campaign: His oddball comments set off a series of press feeding frenzies, and he manages to squander a huge Republican opportunity to regain the White House.
Newt Gingrich is closing in on Romney in South Carolina. A Time poll out late Wednesday confirms what is already apparent on the ground. Romney is at 33 percent and Gingrich is at 23 percent, a recent slip of four points for Romney and an increase of five for Gingrich. Former Sen. Rick Santorum, the other contender for the non-Romney vote, trails with 16 percent. Gingrich was the clear winner of Monday's debate, Romney and Santorum have started attacking him (a sure sign he's on the move), and his pitch to voters is solid. (Plus, as Dave Weigel notes, Gingrich's body language screams confidence; if he could have moonwalked off the debate stage Monday night, he might have.)
If Gingrich doesn't catch Romney, it might be the last chance for those in the party who want to stop the front-runner. "Your support in the next four days can change history," Gingrich said at a forum sponsored by the state Chamber of Commerce. "If I win the primary Saturday night, I will be the nominee. I think it's literally that simple. And if I don't win the primary Saturday, we will probably nominate a moderate and odds are fairly high that he will lose to Obama."Continue »
Mitt Romney has said that he would like to talk about income inequality -- but only in "quiet rooms." Romney is learning, however, that there is no way to keep the inequality conversation between four walls. It's going to occur in quiet rooms, in loud rooms, on debate stages, and, most importantly, in the quiet room known as the voting booth.
Campaigning in South Carolina Tuesday, Romney learned just how difficult this issue will be when he tried to take advantage of the new fascination with income inequality to attack rival Newt Gingrich. Gingrich's capital gains tax of 0 percent would be a huge windfall to the wealthy, he argued, whereas his plan would offer a capital gains break only for the middle class. But then the Time's Mark Halperin asked Romney about his own personal tax rate. Romney said it was about 15 percent, because he doesn't make much wage income. Suddenly the income inequality issue that Romney had been trying to exploit was being turned against him. The White House spokesman and Democratic National Committee said that Romney was an example of just the kind of taxpayer the president thought should be paying more in times of tight budgets.
The primary question of the 2012 campaign appears to be: What is fair? Is the government, through design or stupidity, tilted against some and rewarding others? Is the private enterprise system broken because of corporate greed and stupidity, or is it instead hindered by government? And no matter how you answer those questions, both parties agree that you are getting screwed, and that fairness, which was at the heart of the American Dream, is disappearing.Continue »
A week ago, Jon Huntsman said Mitt Romney represented the divisions that are tearing the country apart. Today he endorsed him. "I believe it is now time for our party to unite around the candidate best equipped to defeat Barack Obama. Despite our differences and the space between us on some issues, I believe that candidate is Governor Mitt Romney."
It's common for trailing candidates to unleash their harshest attacks on their opponent in the last desperate moments of their campaign--and then to immediately turn around and endorse them. This may be "just politics," but you can understand why it's always a way politicians disappoint us: Were you sincere in your denunciations, or are you sincere in your endorsement?Continue »