Newt Gingrich: How Not to Run For President

By YeOldeScribe ~ June 11th, 2011 @ 1:09 am

At Political Progressives, we’ll be the first to tell you that trying to predict election results more than a year and a half in advance is like trying to pick a winner for the Kentucky Derby before the field is set – it’s often just a waste of time. Between now and November 6th, 2012, a whole lot of things can happen. So when we tried to pick the finalists and a champion for the 2012 presidential race almost a month ago, we did so with caveats abound, pointing out the fact that we were bound to get some things wrong. We predicted that Huckabee would run in the primaries and eventually lose to Romney, but Huckabee decided against running and kept his job as a pundit for Fox News. Needless to say, nobody’s perfect, especially when it comes to predicting elections.

But looking back to that first link, we did make an interesting prediction about Newt Gingrich’s campaign that has all but come true:

“If this election was taking place 10 years ago. Sure, he’d still have to answer for some of his policies and antics, but we feel in his prime Gingrich would have made a fine candidate. However, Gingrich running now is the equivalent of Bob Dole running in ’96 (or worse, Bob Dole running today). Gingrich just isn’t relevant anymore… We predict Gingrich will run, but drop out before the primaries are finished, much like Rudy Giuliani did in 2008.” (emphasis added)

For those of you who remember what the early days of the 2008 election looked like, it seemed at the time that Giuliani at worst had a shot at receiving the Republican nomination and at best was in the lead to get the nod. Then the Giuliani campaign made some interesting decisions: first, they decided not to even start their campaign until much later in the election cycle – long after the Iowa caucuses were done. Second, even when Rudy did start to campaign, he did so at a snail’s pace and was about as inspiring as watching rust form on a car bumper. At the time, our writer was studying for his political science degree and thought it to be one of the strangest and ill-planned campaigns in the history of political elections. But Gingrich’s campaign might have taken a page out of Giuliani’s book, and one-up’ed him.

Newt stated off his campaign with a bang – but not in a good way. On the day after he announced his plan to run on the Republican ticket, he bashed Wis. Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget proposal, which included re-shaping Medicare and Medicaid. While we applaud Gingrich’s willingness to not accept a policy just because it came from his party, we think that he might have went a little overboard in his critique, calling the Ryan plan “Right-wing social engineering” among other insults. Also, the timing of it was just horrible. It’s okay to be critical of your own party, but the day after you’ve announced you’re running for your party’s spot on the ticket is probably not the time. Also, Newt’s gotta be smarter than that. This isn’t the general election yet – if you’re going to woo independents and conservative democrats, that would be the time to do it. Primaries are all about stroking your base. And finally, if you’re going to blast a policy that came from your party as “radical” and “too big a jump”, don’t apologize the next day and say you’re on board with the plan. Now no one is on your side, and everyone is against you. That’s not a way to win an election.

The problems continued from there, though. Once that fiasco finally started to fade, we heard relatively little about Gingrich and his campaign plans. That’s probably because he wasn’t doing much campaigning at all. Sure, he put together teams in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina, and they were getting a lot of preliminary work done. But your team can only do so much – eventually the candidate needs to step up and get the job done. And Newt never did that. Instead, he was on a luxury cruise with his wife on the Seabourn Odyssey, a ship that describes itself as “luxury,” “stunning,” “expansive,” “lavish” and “curated.” On top of that, it was recently leaked that Gingrich has quite the line of credit at Tiffany’s – something along the lines of $250,000 to $500,000. None of this is illegal or even wrong, mind you – except for the fact that Newt was famous for bashing liberals as “elitist” and out of touch with the middle class.

Eventually, it was just too much for his staff. They were tired of doing all the work and being blown off by their boss so he could go on cruises and “skip work” for all intents and purposes. They were in complete disagreement with their boss on how to run the campaign and secure the Republican nomination. They didn’t even agree on how much time and money would be needed in order to campaign effectively. So his campaign staff used a tactic we’ve never really seen used to this degree before: they quit.

Almost all of Newt’s election staff has abandoned the presidential hopeful. Newt lost his campaign co-chair (who defected to the Pawlenty campaign), seven of his senior staff including the campaign managers in Iowa, South Carolina and Georgia, as well as campaign staff in Iowa and Perdue. Keep in mind that most of the departing staff wasn’t the hired guns or the political strategists that work for the party – many of these people have been working with Gingrich since his days on Capitol Hill, and have been his friends and co-workers for life. The fact that his inner circle was forced to abandon their fearless leader should tell you how huge of a mess the Gingrich campaign was.

Newt has insisted that he’ll weather the storm and that he still plans to run for and win the Republican nomination, but in that world the rest of us live in called reality, we know his campaign is all but over. Even if he tries to campaign in the first few primaries, without his tried and trusted staff to back him up, he has no chance of winning. And that’s assuming that he doesn’t shoot himself in the foot again before the elections start. If Newt continues to be Newt, he won’t even make it to the primaries before he’ll be forced to drop out and fade back into political obscurity. If he somehow does make it to the primaries though, don’t expect anything better than the occasional top 5 finish. And a top 5 finish does not a presidential candidate make – even with a field that is (so far) one of the weakest Republican talent pools ever.

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