David Horsey's column from Friday notes the nervousness GOP leaders are feeling with respect to the ongoing presidential nomination campaign. So far there have been three winners in the first three contests, but that's not what worries them. What worries them is that one of those winners is Newt Gingrich, a man who appears to be gaining momentum.
After Gingrich, former speaker of the House, hammered the former Massachusetts governor in the South Carolina primary, many Republican members of Congress began to fear for their jobs, or at least for their chance to hold the House and take the Senate in the November election. Gingrich’s negatives are so high and his reputation for erratic behavior so big that they are convinced he could not beat President Obama and would drag down many Republican candidates with him.
Gingrich is not well-liked by many of the people he worked with in Congress. In fact, loathing may better characterize their feelings. [Emphasis added]
It's long been clear that Republican leaders expected Mitt Romney to have an easy time of it. It's also long been clear that this was the preferred outcome. That's understandable. Almost everyone in the nation suspected Gingrich was simply in the race to promote himself and his books. He'd make a few speeches, a few appearances, and then he'd go away after getting trounced by the main candidate. Apparently we all forgot what happened in 2010: the grassroots on the right was tired of business as usual and turned out to elect people more in line with what the Tea Partiers wanted.
Gingrich might lose in Florida tomorrow, but he's not going away anytime soon, according to his comments on Saturday:
On the weekend before the pivotal Florida primary, Newt Gingrich vowed Saturday to stay in the race for the Republican presidential nomination until the national convention this summer even if he loses Tuesday's vote. ...
..."You just had two national polls that show me ahead," he said. "Why don't you ask Gov. Romney what he will do if he loses" in Florida.
Yes, this is typical Gingrich braggadocio, but he has a point. He's doing just fine right now, and he has access to some pretty deep pockets to help keep his campaign up and running. Citizens United has been a boon to him and will presumably continue to work in his favor. Why should he quit now?
Mitt Romney has had to change his approach to campaigning by turning to attack ads and speeches, which gives Newt an opening to do the same. As a result, the two men are making President Obama's job much easier. The Republican candidates are so busy ripping into each other, pointing out flaws and flip-flops, that they are doing the opposition research for the enemy. And that might very well cost Republicans not only the White House, but also the Senate and House of Representatives.
It's a long time to November, but it might very well be the most fun lefty wonks have had in a long time. I know that I've been enjoying myself, although I've had to cut the butter and salt I've been using on the popcorn for health reasons.