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In Florida, Newt fumbled his second second chance

Posted by B. Daniel Blatt at 6:48 pm - February 1, 2012.
Filed under: 2012 Presidential Election

When sometime in the next three to six weeks, pundits write Newt Gingrich’s 2012 political obituary, they will wonder why the seasoned politician hasn’t learned from his mistakes, indeed from mistakes made in the current campaign.

Considered an als0-ran for the better part of the campaign lat  year, he zoomed up in the polls last November and December, largely due to his focus on the issues in the debates.  His second chance.

His rise, however, met by a barrage of negative ads from the Romney campaign (and the Romney Super-pac), Newt’s poll numbers plummeted.  In Iowa, he finished 16,000 votes behind Rick Santorum and Mitt Romney — and even 10,000 votes behind Ron Paul.  “Voters,” Byron York wrote at the beginning of January, “who once supported Gingrich but have now turned away from him say that his hot-tempered response to the ads, rather than the ads themselves, simply turned them off.

He finished fourth in New Hampshire — 74,000 votes behind Mitt Romney.

When, in South Carolina, he stopped whining, attacked the media and focused on the issues, he saw his fortunes reverse.  He had a second second chance.  He beat Romney by 75,000 votes in South Carolina.

Knowing how Romney had reacted to his rise, he should have anticipated the attacks — and realized that whining about negative ads hadn’t helped him in Iowa — or New Hampshire.  The whining even earned him a rebuke from Rush Limbaugh.  And so he squandered his second second chance.

FROM THE COMMENTS:  V the K makes a good point:

I’ve repeated, ad nauseam, that Obama’s 2012 campaign will be a rerun of Harry Reid’s scorched Earth, demonize the opposition campaign of 2010. But it struck me this morning that Mittbot runs the risk of running a Sharron Angle campaign focused entirely on the flaws of the incumbent without articulating a clear alternative vision; a compelling reason for voters to vote for his agenda.

. . . which Sonicfrog counters:

Nope. Unlike Angle, Romney’s been in charge of things, has ample experience being an executive, and, most important, will definitely NOT run on his religious beliefs or say he was chosen by God to run.

Hey, Mitt, just saying the GOP will be united won’t make it so

Mitt Romney, Fred Barnes writes, citing the candidate’s victory speech last night . . .

. . .  insisted the brutal primary campaign, with Romney and Gingrich trading attacks on each other’s character and motives, won’t leave Republicans divided. “A competitive primary does not divide us,” he said. “It prepares us. When Republicans gather in August at their convention, “ours will be a united party with a winning ticket for America.” He didn’t say so, but it’s up to Romney to do the uniting.

And to do that, he needs to show he appreciates the appeal of his rivals and act to quell doubts about his conservatism.  Just saying the party will  be united won’t make it so.

Yesterday, Robert Costa reported one step the once-and-future frontrunner could take toward unifying the party, make a bold statement on tax reform:

As Romney mulls [“’phase two”’of his tax-reform plan“], Grover Norquist, the president of Americans for Tax Reform, has some advice: endorse the House GOP’s tax-reform plan instead of proposing a separate legislative outline.

“The smart move is to say, ‘I’m with Paul Ryan,’” Norquist says. “Then it’s not ‘his plan,’ and [Romney] can simply say, ‘I’ve endorsed the House Republican plan’ when prompted about tax reform.”

A bold plan will show a commitment to conservative reform.  Instead of attacking his rivals, Romney should now focus on the issues.

Should he put forward — or sign onto — plans to reduce the deficit, reform the tax code, repeal statist legislation (e.g., Obamacare, Dodd-Frank, Sarbanes-Oxely), he will go a long way to rallying the base.  And he should put in a kind word or two (or three) about his rivals.

And with reverence, recall Ronald Reagan.

A window into the liberal mindset

Posted by B. Daniel Blatt at 5:15 pm - February 1, 2012.
Filed under: Liberals

Last April, I wondered how Thomas Friedman gained the reputation as “one of the most, if not the most, thoughtful columnists in America.”  He never seem to offer anything more than the “conventional [liberal] wisdom with just a little bit of a twist.”  Given his appeal, his columns do aoffer a window into the liberal mindset.

On Monday, James Taranto joined some of his fellow conservative bloggers in quoting the New York Times columnist:

THE Associated Press reported last week that Fidel Castro, the former president of Cuba, wrote an opinion piece on a Cuban Web site, following a Republican Party presidential candidates’ debate in Florida, in which he argued that the “selection of a Republican candidate for the presidency of this globalized and expansive empire is — and I mean this seriously — the greatest competition of idiocy and ignorance that has ever been.”

When Marxists are complaining that your party’s candidates are disconnected from today’s global realities, it’s generally not a good sign. But they’re not alone.

So, Tom, you’re telling me that Marxists who silence dissent in their regimes are particularly attuned to global realities?  And, um, Marxists tend not to have the highest opinion of American conservatives.

Maybe that explains why American liberals have long been so enamored with Mr. Castro. Et tu, Thomas?

Newt refuses to congratulate Romney on Florida victory

Posted by B. Daniel Blatt at 3:02 am - February 1, 2012.
Filed under: 2012 Presidential Election

When just ten days ago, Mitt Romney lost the South Carolina primary, he congratulated Newt Gingrich, the man who defeated him.  With the tables turned in Florida, the former Speaker did not return the favor.  As Jennifer Rubin reports:

Newt Gingrich gave his post-primary speech tonight while gracelessly declining to congratulate the man who beat him by double digits. According to the Romney campaign, Gingrich hadn’t called to congratulate the Florida winner as of 9:30 p.m. ET.

If you’re wondering“, Allahpundit added, “why the post about the concession speech is going up after the victory speech, it’s because Newt apparently refused to call Romney to concede tonight and decided to wait him out.”

At least in his speech, Texas Congressman Ron Paul did congratulate the victor.

Romney will wrap up nomination if he learns from Newt’s mistakes

Posted by B. Daniel Blatt at 2:44 am - February 1, 2012.
Filed under: 2012 Presidential Election,Conservative Ideas

If Mitt Romney wishes to lock up the Republican nomination and rally those parts of the conservative base which remain cool to him, he would be wise to learn from Newt Gingrich’s defeat in Florida.  The returns last night in the Sunshine State were as much a defeat for Newt Gingrich as they were for Mitt Romney’s organization.

Had Newt shown greater class in responding his primary opponent’s negative ads, he might have done better last night.  He’s been in politics now for close to forty years — and been the subject of some pretty ruthless attacks.   Why, one wonders, was he not been prepared for them?

He’s been though this before — in this very campaign.  Byron York reminds us that when “Gingrich reacted angrily and publicly” to Romney’s attack ads in Iowa, “Voters in New Hampshire who were once open to Gingrich’s candidacy turned away from him, saying his hot-tempered response to the ads — rather than the ads themselves — just turned them off.”  (Emphasis added.)

Gingrich saw his fortunes shift in South Carolina only after he ceased attacking Romney on Bain Capital.  When “he moved back to talking about the issues,” York recalls, “he won decisively.”

Even Rush Limbaugh has been telling Gingrich to stop whining.  Ed Morrissey contends his plaints as a sign that the former Speaker would wither in the face of a far more ruthless opponent than the man who vanquished him last night, “As Rush says, if Newt’s whining about this, how can we expect him to handle what a billion-dollar campaign will lay out against him in the fall?

To win Florida, York contends, “Gingrich had two must-dos:” 1) respond calmly to Romney’s attacks; “and 2) keep up the solid message he rode to victory in South Carolina.”  Roger Simon agrees with that latter point:

After his solid victory in South Carolina, Gingrich did not continue the obvious strategy that got him there – running against Barack Obama by presenting himself to Republican voters as the great orator and thinker who could bring down the noxious incumbent, the man who rose above internecine intra-party squabbles for the greater good of his country. (more…)