Both the Gingrich ads earlier this week, and now the Romney-superPAC ads appear to have been placed through Google, but it’s still pretty funny that Restore Our Future is paying to have their anti-Gingrich ad placed (a) on one of the most anti-Gingrich sites in Georgia, and (b) directly next to a story about how much Romney sucks.
Today’s Courier Herald Column:
If conventional wisdom holds, the race for the Republican presidential nomination was largely frozen last week, as voters moved from watching the evolving horse race to preparing for a five week holiday season. Coincidentally, voters in Iowa will gather in five weeks on January 3rd to hold the nation’s first caucuses on the subject. Thus, the perceived front runners who locked in their positions last week are likely to remain the front runners until those first votes are counted about the time the Sugar Bowl kicks off.
The importance of winning last week’s news cycle made the choice and timing of Newt Gingrich’s remarks on immigration in Tuesday night’s CNN debate on foreign policy a bit curious and risky. Gingrich stated in bluntly certain terms that it is not possible or even desirable to deport every immigrant currently living in the United States illegally. In doing so, some believe he’s touched a third rail of Republican primary politics.
Gingrich’s remarks made clear that he does not favor a path to citizenship, but does offer a path to legalization for those who have lived her for decades, are involved in the community, have raised children and even grandchildren here, and are paying taxes. “I’m prepared to take the heat for saying, let’s be humane in enforcing the law without giving them citizenship but by finding a way to create legality so that they are not separated from their families” he stated.
This, of course, created the usual cries of “Amnesty!” from some hard line immigration opponents. D.A. King, leader of the Georgia based Dustin Inman society and persistent critic of U.S. immigration enforcement policy, penned an Op Ed for Friday’s Marietta Daily Journal dismissing Gingrich as a possibility for his vote, stating Newt had “degraded and insulted the entire concept of legal immigration and U.S. citizenship by referring to not-yet-captured illegal aliens as ‘law-abiding citizens’.”
Yet others are willing to hear Gingrich out on the issue. The Associated Press reports that over 1,000 showed up at a Naples Florida hotel to hear Gingrich address the issue on Friday, with others turned away for lack of space. During his remarks, he reiterated his position and clarified some significant points that hit home with voters on both sides of the issue. Read more
What does the Gingrich campaign of today and the McCain campaign of 2007 have in common? They were declared DOA around the summer time, but started to see a rise in the polls. Ultimately, McCain became the nominee after a drag-out, knock-out slugfest between Huckabee and Romney. Now, we see Cain on top, Romney second, and Newt is third. People are saying “Romney is the inevitable…just accept it.” Maybe I’m just stubborn, but I’m not willing to say that someone is inevitable just because they’re the “moderate”.
Yeah, Romney might be the eventual nominee, but it hasn’t been determined yet. The caucuses and primaries haven’t been decided yet. These races are different than 2008, but Newt is currently in the same position as McCain was 4 years ago. There are political dynamics that don’t make this exactly the same (i.e., McCain was considered the moderate candidate much like Romney is today). There’s a possibility that the slugfest could be between Cain and Newt that could make Romney the nominee, but we’ll see.
Newt might have gained enough speed going into the primary, but it’s possible he really could be the flavor of the month. Until then, enjoy the turkey.
Today’s Courier Herald Column:
Last May, on the eve of Georgia’s State GOP convention, I asked if the Newt Gingrich that would address the local faithful could demonstrate through word and action what he has learned since his exit from elected politics. There is little question that Gingrich is a bright man, and what he knows is not in question. But what he had learned from mistakes made in his public and personal life were a lingering issue. A week later, we had a preliminary answer.
Following his speech to the Georgia GOP, he began a week that included torpedoing Paul Ryan’s Medicare reform proposals on Meet The Press, was “glitter bombed” at a book signing, and asked by an Iowa voter on camera when he was going to get out of the race to quit embarrassing himself. He responded to his stumble by taking a Mediterranean cruise during which virtually his entire staff quit. It was, by any objective measure, a horrible official start to a campaign.
The result was a loss of momentum, endorsements, and fundraising. Former Governor Sonny Perdue switched his support to Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty without as much as a phone call to Gingrich. With fundraising drying up, there was not a quick move to replace staff, and the campaign soon announced debt of roughly $1 Million. Gingrich, as John McCain had done 4 years earlier, was reduced to flying commercial for campaign appearances usually without staff in tow.
As Gingrich faded to the background, Tim Pawlenty was unable to capitalize on his newfound supporters. He withdrew from the race after a dust up with Michelle Bachmann prior to the Ames Iowa straw poll which left her in the spotlight and his campaign hemorrhaging cash. On the day of the straw poll, national numbers placed Bachmann on par with Mitt Romney as the front runners in the GOP race. Less than a week later, Rick Perry was a candidate and the presumed front runner, also having poll numbers comparable to Romney. Thirty days later, Herman Cain had the same supporters, with Bachmann’s campaign on life support and Perry fighting for 4th place with Gingrich.
Anit-“Establishment” Republicans have been searching for a “Not Mitt Romney” candidate since this race began. Romney, for his part, has been dutifully bouncing between 25 and 30% in national polls. That’s enough to call him a front runner, but leaving 70% of GOP voters available for anyone else. Romney has yet to demonstrate he can attract the supporters when other candidates stumble. Read more
Today’s Courier Herald Column:
Last Saturday, the Florida Republican Party held their Presidency 5 Convention and corresponding straw poll for President. Georgia’s Herman Cain won a strong 37.1 percent of the vote, dusting the “top tier” candidates Rick Perry and Mitt Romney who managed support from 15.4 percent and 14 percent of the delegates, respectively.
Straw polls generally provide more fodder for pundits and campaigns than for serious analysis of campaign trends, but there are occasional exceptions. Presidency 5 claims to have predicted the Republican nominee since its inception in 1979. Delegates are selected at the county party level and must pay a $175 registration fee to attend.
The selection process is unlike the Ames Iowa straw poll where anyone who shows up with $30 – their money or from a candidate buying votes – can cast a ballot. Michele Bachmann won the Iowa straw poll handily, and was briefly considered by some to be a front runner. She finished 8th at the Florida gathering, with only 1.5% of votes cast. Read more
Newt Gingrich’s American Solutions has shut down:
Newt Gingrich’s struggling presidential ambitions appear to have claimed another victim: his own organization.
American Solutions, a fund-raising organization that Mr. Gingrich formed in 2007 to finance and promote his speaking and traveling schedule, has gone bankrupt and closed its doors, according to a watchdog organization.
The Center for Public Integrity attributed the news to the group’s chairman, Joe Gaylord, a longtime associate of Mr. Gingrich.
In four years, the group, formally called American Solutions for Winning the Future, raised more than $50 million. As a so-called 527 organization, the group could raise unlimited amounts of money. Mr. Gingrich used the group as a way to promote his ideas of government reform.
Campaign finance reports showed that much of that money went to pay for charter flights for Mr. Gingrich as he traveled the country, keeping his political profile high.
But once Mr. Gingrich declared as a Republican presidential candidate, the moving force behind the group was forced to sever ties to it. Without him at the helm, the group struggled, according to the report by the Center for Public Integrity.
Had Mr. Gingrich’s presidential campaign started strong, American Solutions might have been helped by his candidacy. Instead, Mr. Gingrich quickly stumbled over verbal gaffes and revelations about his lavish personal spending.
The Gingrich campaign likely isn’t far behind.
I’m not going to attempt to psychoanalyze Newt Gingrich, a very complicated man with whom I’ve exchanged fewer words than I’ll use to write this blog. I will do something most writers do not do when addressing a politician’s comments; however, I’ll examine what he said.
Viewers remember the exchange between Speaker Gingrich and Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace during the Iowa GOP debate. Gingrich accused Wallace of using “gotcha questions” and “playing Mickey Mouse games”. Wallace responded by stating that he was sorry if Gingrich thought questions about his record were “Mickey Mouse”. It was interesting political theater, but it missed Gingrich’s real point while proving that he was exactly right.
Do you remember the point Mr. Gingrich was making? It was a legitimate issue that challenged journalists and political analysts in an area where they should be held accountable. In that same exchange with Wallace, Gingrich said the following, from the debate transcripts:
GINGRICH: I’d love to see the rest of tonight’s debate asking us about what we would do to lead an America whose president has failed to lead . . .
GINGRICH: I think that there’s too much attention paid by the press corps about the campaign minutia and not enough paid by the press corps to the basic ideas that distinguish us from Barack Obama.(APPLAUSE)
Gingrich challenged the press to address real issues and report candidate ideas. The irony is that while Gingrich’s remarks were covered in the context of his overt challenge to the press, the thrust of his argument was overlooked, thus proving his point. In this exchange at least, the media has been much more concerned with “minutia” than with providing information that would help voters determine the next leader of the free world.
The press has developed a tendency to cover elections as if they are athletic contests. I can’t tell you exactly when that happened, but it has clearly happened. Political press coverage is now more about campaign strategy than about substance. The electorate is suffering because coverage of ideas and strategies about how to govern our country is being crowded out by coverage of candidate tactics and advertising campaigns.
Over the weekend, Newt Gingrich complained that the media wasn’t paying attention to the fact that he has more Twitter followers than any other Republican presidential hopeful; since, you know, Twitter followers translate into votes the primary. But according to a former staffer, Gingrich’s campaign hired a company to artificially inflate his numbers:
if Newt is winning the Twitter primary, it’s because of voter fraud. A former staffer tells us that his campaign hired a firm to boost his follower count, in part by creating fake accounts en masse:
Newt employs a variety of agencies whose sole purpose is to procure Twitter followers for people who are shallow/insecure/unpopular enough to pay for them. As you might guess, Newt is most decidedly one of the people to which these agencies cater.
About 80 percent of those accounts are inactive or are dummy accounts created by various “follow agencies,” another 10 percent are real people who are part of a network of folks who follow others back and are paying for followers themselves (Newt’s profile just happens to be a part of these networks because he uses them, although he doesn’t follow back), and the remaining 10 percent may, in fact, be real, sentient people who happen to like Newt Gingrich. If you simply scroll through his list of followers you’ll see that most of them have odd usernames and no profile photos, which has to do with the fact that they were mass generated. Pathetic, isn’t it?
That’s quite a different explanation for Gingrich’s Twitter popularity than the one offered by this Politico story on the subject: “[I]t’s his personal touch: He tweets and manages his Twitter feed himself, his campaign confirmed to POLITICO. All told, he has tweeted 2,611 times in the 29 months since he joined the site.”
The campaign denies it, though I guess that is to be expected. It could be that this former staffer has an axe to grind. But either way, Twitter followers don’t mean anything. Gingrich is polling near the bottom of GOP hopefuls, and he is there because he made huge gaffes early on in his campaign. Primary voters reacted, no amount @ replies and retweets is going to change that.
Andrew Ferguson, writing in the New York Times, gives us an interesting retrospective of Newt Gingrich’s 20+ books. Treating Gingrich’s body of work as the literary corpus of a writer provides a fresh take on the man we’ve known primarily through his ideas these many years.
Ferguson identifies common Gingrich tropes (“we stand at a crossroads: either we will save our country or we will lose it”), forays into bizspeak, obsession with technology as a societal change agent, and Gingrich’s understanding of his own weaknesses.
Whether you love or hate Gingrich, it’s an interesting perspective on the career of the politician/writer, whose next literary effort may most closely resemble Greek tragedy.
From the Washington Post, we get this gem:
Employees of presidential candidate Newt Gingrich grew increasingly concerned in recent years about their boss’s purchases from luxury jeweler Tiffany & Co., worried that if he followed through on plans to run for president it could become a political liability….
Gingrich campaign communication director Joe DeSantis declined to address the details offered by the employees, and dismissed their accounts as trivial.
“Class warfare does not create jobs,” he said in a written statement.
Hat tip to Jim Galloway.
Today’s Courier Herald Column:
A couple of weeks ago, the state of Georgia’s budget was so tight that there was no other choice to save money than to eliminate one of the remaining employees at the State Ethics Commission and cut the salary of the Commission’s director 30% to $85,000. The fact that Stacey Kalberman had prepared subpoenas to investigate ethics complaints filed against Governor Nathan Deal was just an unfortunate coincidence.
Today, Georgia is flush with cash again. AJC reporter Aaron Gould Sheinin is reporting that a scheduler for former Governor Sonny Perdue, Corinna Magelund, has been promoted to the state’s mental health ombudsman, doubling her salary from $53,000 to $107,000. The Governor’s office is adamant that her relationship with Deal campaign advisor and now Deputy Chief of Staff Brian Robinson had no part in her promotion, despite the fact that Magelund has no background in mental health. The AJC story indicates that Robinson and Magelund are dating.
Magelund, now earning over six figures, has a bachelor’s degree in communications from Valdosta State. Kalberman, who Deal’s supporters argued was living above the wages of average Georgians, has a law degree from Emory with over 10 years corporate law experience. While Kalberman was told to accept a pay cut from $120,000 to $85,000 or resign, Magelund’s new salary is $25,000 higher than that of the person who last held the job, Jewel Norman. Norman has bachelor’s and master’s degrees in psychology.
The Deal leadership team continues to demonstrate political tone deafness when it comes to public perception of their actions. At the root of this problem are trust issues, but ones not originating from the public, but from within. Read more
In the summer of 2007, the media was declaring John McCain’s presidential bid over after lackluster fundraising reports and numerous resignations. He went on to recover and became the Republican nominee for president. Will former House Speaker Newt Gingrich be able to perform the same miracle?
Today’s Courier Herald Column:
Newt Gingrich returned from his summer vacation cruise to find that almost his entire campaign staff had resigned, including his Georgia headquarters team and his frontline personnel in Iowa. It was yet another blow, perhaps a terminal one, to a campaign that has not caught a positive break since it began at the Georgia Republican convention less than one month ago.
Gingrich managed to stop the public hemorrhaging by lowering his profile and getting out of the country for more than half his official time as a candidate. His decision to seek sun and solitude instead of doubling down on lackluster fundraising efforts is being frequently cited as a key source of frustration that motivated the staff exodus.
For his part, Gingrich says his campaign will begin anew this weekend in Los Angeles and that he will appear in a debate in New Hampshire on Monday. Georgia and national pundits, however, have already written an obituary for Gingrich 2012. Gingrich and his remaining supporters may find solace in the 2008 campaign of John McCain, also written off as viable when he had to slash most staff and traveled to and from events solo, flying coach.
For now, however, Gingrich’s severe troubles are presenting opportunities for other candidates. Read more
Do you know why no one should take Newt Gingrich’s presidential aspirations seriously? Because he’s on a cruise in the Mediterranean right now instead of meeting voters in Iowa or New Hampshire.
Of course, Gingrich’s candidacy was effectively over after he slammed Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget plan and endorsed a form of the individual mandate – the centerpiece of ObamaCare – on Meet the Press on May 15th. Yeah, Gingrich still has OK poll numbers; but he is grasping for relevancy at this point. Being away from the action as other candidates running for the GOP nomination are laying groundwork doesn’t seem very smart.
Today’s Courier Herald Column:
Last Friday, this space was dedicated to the problems of Newt Gingrich coming “home” to address a Georgia GOP base that has changed significantly since he last served as Congressman and Speaker. That night, he addressed convention delegates as the headline speaker at their dinner, and was greeted somewhere between politely and enthusiastically. The headlines coming out of the convention dealing with Presidential candidates, however, gave the edge on intensity to relative newcomer Herman Cain.
The main need cited here last week for Gingrich was to demonstrate in the face of his many missteps from his earlier political career that he find an ability to quit showing voters what he knows, and demonstrate what he has learned. Gingrich has long prided himself on his reputation as an idea factory. There is no problem that can be thrown at Newt where he can’t respond with an off-the cuff stream of consciousness which will no doubt include a historical reference, a citation of Alvin Toffler, an appeal to “outside the box thinking”, and at least one sometimes-subtle-but- sometimes-not challenge to accepted conservative conventional thinking to demonstrate that he is a thought leader and not just citing partisan talking points.
Since Friday, we’ve learned a lot about what Gingrich hasn’t learned, as his being slightly upstaged by Herman Cain at the Georgia GOP convention may have been the highlight of his week. Sunday Morning, Newt appeared on NBC’s Meet The Press to denounce Paul Ryan’s budget plan as “right wing social engineering”, earning immediate and uniform scorn from GOP elected officials and DC pundits alike. Read more