Newt Gingrich Borrows a Page from the Left-Wing Playbook

If voters want a president who will demonize Wall Street, they’ve got a perfectly fine incumbent in Barack Obama.

Even before polls opened in Florida’s Republican primary, some pundits were trying to explain a potential Newt Gingrich loss there by saying he’d been outspent.

Mike Allen’s influential Politico Playbook daily morning email reported Monday, “Newt Gingrich has been outspent on the Florida airwaves by a nearly $12 million margin,” about $15 million to about $3 million. The thought was echoed on Twitter by a political reporter for The New York Times, Nick Confessore, who asked, “Money carrying the day?” Mike Murphy, a political consultant who used to work for Mitt Romney, tweeted, “Mitt had 6 to 1 $$ advantage.”

Don’t believe it. If Romney does manage to win Florida and Gingrich does lose, the explanation is about the candidates’ message, not the money. After all, Rick Santorum won the Iowa caucuses after being outspent there.

Sure, Florida’s a more expensive market than Iowa is for paid television spots. But the value of the unpaid television news and other press exposure is far more than that of the campaign commercials. If Gingrich were a stronger candidate with a more resonant message, he might have used the televised debates and other appearances to connect with voters better.

In the closing stretch of the Florida campaign, Gingrich, instead of stressing his pro-growth plans to cut taxes, has remade himself as a kind of Occupy Wall Street Republican. “I do not believe Wall Street can give enough money to run enough negative ads to hide from the truth,” Gingrich said Sunday at a rally in a retirement community. “Governor Romney has the ability to raise an amazing amount of money out of Wall Street, from Goldman Sachs, to all the major banks,” Gingrich complained on Fox News Sunday With Chris Wallace. Bloomberg News reported an interview it had with Gingrich by publishing a news article that began, “Newt Gingrich, accusing Republican presidential primary opponent Mitt Romney of being a ‘fundamentally dishonest’ tool of Wall Street, pledged to stop big banking firms such as Goldman Sachs Group Inc. from ‘rigging the game.’”

If voters are looking for a president to demonize Wall Street or major banks, they’ve got a perfectly fine incumbent in Barack Obama. For someone looking to unseat Obama, as Gingrich is, this line of attack doesn’t exactly qualify as what they call in marketing a unique selling proposition.

The attacks on Wall Street undercut Gingrich’s other anti-Romney message, that, as Gingrich put it in the same Fox News Sunday With Chris Wallace appearance, “the only effective way to stop a Massachusetts liberal from becoming our nominee is to vote for Newt Gingrich.” As Rick Santorum has effectively pointed out in the debates, though, Gingrich cut an anti-global-warming commercial with Democratic San Francisco congresswoman Nancy Pelosi, and Gingrich also, for decades, favored a federal individual mandate to purchase health insurance. Romney attacked Gingrich in one of last week’s debates for showing up in Florida with a plan to colonize the moon, a plan calculated to appeal to voters in the Sunshine State’s space coast by spending taxpayer dollars.

It’s almost enough to make a listener think that the most important word in the sentence “the only effective way to stop a Massachusetts liberal from becoming our nominee is to vote for Newt Gingrich” is Massachusetts. Or, in other words, that what really troubles Gingrich about Romney isn’t his liberalism (after all, Gingrich can far outdo him at Wall Street-bashing, the sine qua non of modern liberalism) but his home state.

The nice thing about these seemingly endless presidential campaigns is that over the long haul, amid the fatigue and high-stakes desperation of the series of primaries and caucuses and debates and interviews and campaign appearances, the core beliefs and characteristics of the candidates have a way of shining through. For this Newt Gingrich and the chroniclers of the campaign can blame not the negative campaign commercials that have been aired against Gingrich but rather the decisions, record, and words that are the candidate’s own.

Ira Stoll is editor of FutureOfCapitalism.com and author of Samuel Adams: A Life.

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • ||

    Is he a Newt or a Chameleon?

  • cathrine||

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  • ||

    This is true.

    Newt isn't Wall St, he is not small government, he is not fundie-nut Christo-fascist a'la Jim Demint, he is not Tea Party --- Newt is just Newt. Lost and unmoored Newt is just redneck angst.

  • ||

    Almost had me believing it was Shriek with the Christo-fascist bit but the rest simply makes too much sense.

    B-

  • Mr. FIFY||

    Remember, folks:

    To shrike, anyone not like him is a "redneck". Even if you're never going to vote for Newt.

  • Apocalypse Newt||

    Captain Willard voyages upriver in search of General Knewt, a former Commander, now insane fundamentalist, living in an isolated outpost among his tribe, who lavish him with ironic, cult-like, devotion.

  • UvalDuvalCuckoo||

    If you were married to a woman 20 years your jr who had a hairstyle that made her look like a Blonde Cylon Centurion, wouldn't you be a little on the angsty side too? All she needs is that little red light going across her eyes (the one they reused for the car on KnightRider)

  • ||

    With any luck, by the time his candidacy is reduced to a flaming ball of absurdity Newt will be nothing more than an incoherent bum screaming obscenities at passers-by. Not even buffoons like Al Hunt will take him seriously.

  • ||

    It's about now that we should discover that Newt is running in both the Democratic and Republican primaries.

  • ||

    You mean, he's Superbama's Secret Identity?

  • Guest1776||

    I don't think its coincidence that from the beginning of the race liberals were saying Romney or Huntsman would be the best candidate for the GOP.

    Dana Milbank White Horse Prophecy
    http://tinyurl.com/35k2nbh

    Brace Yourself for the Anti-Mormon Slime Machine
    http://tinyurl.com/843zon4

    Willard Romney = The empty bucket candidate. Bob Dole never understood the joke. A man trying to win the Presidency without a motivated base is like a man standing in the bucket trying to pick himself up by the handle.

    "We had rabbits when we needed tigers" -President Reagan

  • Mr. FIFY||

    Wonder how much anti-Mormon slime has ever been flung at Harry Reid.

  • ||

    Gingrich was a quasi-hippie in college. Something he'd like everyone to forget.

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  • ||

    Dude is clearly corrupt as the day is long lol.

    www.pc-anon.tk

  • Guest1776||

    Obama's has been the most transparent administration to ever hold secret meetings about transparency. http://t.co/xZUCjjdz

  • ||

    Not only does Newton liberally grab from the corporate socialist playbook as "conservative solutions" his Security team borrowed from the Ernst Rhoem playbook and ordered the troops to stomp on the sandaled feet of a solitary Paul SIGNHOLDER...resulting in a fractured food. You ought to go and visit the Gingrich boards...they are all laughing and carrying on about about how he deserved it...in German AND Italian!!!

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