Will it be confirmed that Republicans don’t fall in love, they just fall in line with regard to their presidential nominee?
Isn’t it interesting that former candidate Herman Cain as well as candidates Michele Bachmann, Rick Perry and Newt Gingrich, have been hit as somehow “unelectable” by establishment Republicans and the establishment media? What do they all have in common? Well, they are not Mitt Romney.
The establishment of the party has been falling in line by repeatedly saying only the former Massachusetts governor can win a general election showdown against President Barack Obama. There are also cracks in the Tea Party. Elements of that maverick movement are buying into the establishment messaging, evidenced by South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley’s endorsement of Romney.
In the first caucus state of Iowa, the Des Moines Register editorially endorsed Romney. But that may assist Gingrich, who argues that he is the true constitutional conservative in the race. As the speaker notes: “The Manchester (New Hampshire) Union Leader, which is a reliably conservative newspaper, endorsed me and The Des Moines Register, which is a solidly liberal newspaper, did not endorse me. I think that indicates who the conservative in this race is.”
Gingrich seems to be weathering the attacks, helped by the fact no one can take away the laurels he received in 1994 when he was the strategist who led Republicans and their positive reform message to victory in the U.S. House of Representatives, ending 40 years of Democrat rule. They remember under Gingrich we had balanced budgets, paid down our national debt, passed tax relief and welfare reform. All under Newt’s leadership.
Republicans have had few electoral triumphs since then and they cherish that historic one to this day. It should be noted, too, the GOP and media establishment back then were as near-sighted as the old cartoon character Mr. Magoo. They didn’t see the Gingrich-inspired win coming until late October of that year.
Some pundits argue the man Republican lawmakers chose as their speaker from 1995 to 1998 is hobbled in Iowa by a multimillion-dollar television attack ad campaign, mainly by candidate Ron Paul, and they can’t be answered because of a lack of funding. However, Paul could help Gingrich in an ironic way. Paul is the candidate whose foreign policy vision must be increasingly deplored. The Texan essentially said in a Dec. 15 debate that he’d allow a nuclear-armed Iran and incredibly, blamed the United States for fanning anti-Western sentiments by Muslim fanatics. Never mind that radical Muslims, including those who killed more than 3,000 Americans on Sept. 11, 2001, vow to destroy America, Israel and the West while seeking a planet dominated by their brand of Islam.
No other candidate except Romney can win the general election? Wait a minute. Let’s remember that no one in March 2008 would have said a black, liberal, junior U.S. senator from Chicago with the name Barack Hussein Obama would beat Hillary and Bill Clinton in a Democratic presidential primary and then defeat a war hero that November to become the leader of the free world. And Obama was a U.S. senator for only four years!
The establishment keeps saying it is Romney’s turn — not that he is the best candidate. Potential Republican voters across the country are not convinced. Yes, Gingrich has dropped somewhat in national polls after two weeks of attacks — but Romney hasn’t gained much. There remains a large percentage of GOP voters who are undecided and who could still return to or join the Gingrich fold.
Florida, the next primary after South Carolina, is warming to Gingrich — especially since its large voting bloc of senior citizens loath the expensive ObamaCare, and probably RomneyCare.
The Ides of March should determine if more Republicans fall in love with Gingrich or fall in line with Romney.
J.C. Watts (JCWatts01@jcwatts.com) is chairman of J.C. Watts Companies, a business consulting group. He is former chairman of the Republican Conference of the U.S. House, where he served as an Oklahoma representative from 1995 to 2002.