Get Out Newt? Why It Isn’t Time For Gingrich To Leave

14Mar12

Newt Gingrich can hear it everywhere. People from all sides of the political spectrum telling him to drop out of the race for the Republican presidential nomination. Especially after he lost Alabama and Mississippi, two states which border his home state of Georgia. Matt K. Lewis brings up an excellent point in saying it’s time for the former congressman to leave the race, so his delegates can go to the uber-conservative Rick Santorum. Jamie Weinstein suggested to Neil Cavuto that Newt saw himself as a modern day Churchill coming back into power, but was being rejected by GOP voters. Boston Globe columnist  Glen Johnson just thinks it’s time for Gingrich to bail.

These are all legitimate points, but I think the real question to figure out is why exactly IS Newt staying in the race? Part of the reason could a discussion with the Washington Times this week where he said the importance of the GOP’s “grand coalition.” Gingrich sees Republicans as a mix of social conservatives, economic conservatives, defense conservatives and constitutional conservatives (libertarians). When you look at the current front-runners (Romney and Santorum) it’s fairly obvious where they stand. Romney is an economic conservative and at CPAC discussed social issues like gay marriage (he wants a federal amendment banning it). Santorum’s main supporters seem to be social conservatives and economic ones (although he’s rather cagy about his economic plans).

This leaves defense conservatives and constitutional ones without a candidate. Ron Paul is a constitutional conservative, but his foreign policy leaves a lot to be desired. Gingrich has presented economic, social, defense and constitutional ideas which is why he’s getting votes.

So he may be staying in the race for leverage in hopes of making sure the Vice Presidential candidate is someone who will appeal to constitutional and defense conservatives.  Make enough noise and Romney (or whoever the nominee is) will have to pick a running mate Newt supports to get his delegates. Someone like Florida Congressman Allen West, who was in the Army for 22 years before retiring in 2004, or Paul Ryan, the Wisconsin Congressman who authored “The Ryan Plan” in response to President Obama’s 2011 budget. Kentucky U.S. Senator Rand Paul should also be considered as a potential VP nominee and, depending on who you talk to, is a potential pick for Romney should he win the nomination. What Newt could be doing is making sure constitutional and defense conservatives will have a candidate they can get behind so they won’t either skip the election or vote for libertarian Gary Johnson.

It’s a smart strategy and one which not a lot of people are considering. Of course, Newt himself won’t come out and say it because that would pretty much end any chance of it happening. The only thing he is talking about is “finishing strong” and winning the last part of the race. His political director discussed how the nomination was really “half-time” and the real race starts now. Several friends have told the Wall Street Journal this was Gingrich’s last hurrah, so there’s no point in him ending his campaign. A debate is scheduled next week in Portland but could be scuttled if Santorum decides to not participate (Romney has already said no).

If there is no debate, then Newt will have to keep campaigning, gathering (and spending) money and connecting with people to do so. Wisconsin is winner take all but several polls show Santorum in the lead. The polls, however, are a few weeks old. Newt is counting on Callista to bring in votes. I’m not sure that’s going to but you never know.

Will he win? Who knows, I kinda doubt it. But I think Newt brings to the table more than Romney or Santorum.  He’s the smartest of the GOP candidates in the race, the one with some of the best ideas, the most apt debater and has the best personality. He’s also the most volatile and, at times, lets his mind completely go too far. He’s also come up with some bad ideas (being for Paul Ryan’s Medicare reform, then against it, then for it). Plus there’s the three wives (two of them ex-mistresses) and the 1997 GOP revolt against him. And the ethics violations while Speaker of the House. So he’s got political baggage.

But getting out of the campaign doesn’t appear to be in Gingrich’s plans. A Washington Times article says he has more bound delegates than Santorum but that’s probably changed since Tuesday’s primaries. Whatever the case, I doubt the nomination process is over and, unless he starts winning, I doubt the calls for Gingrich to drop out will cease. I’m just not sure he should. Not yet at least.



2 Responses to “Get Out Newt? Why It Isn’t Time For Gingrich To Leave”

  1. Really enjoying your blog.

    US politics are still largely a mystery to me and any light shed on the campain process is most welcome. I look forward to more.

    • I would love to figure out Canadian/Australian politics too. Only thing I can go by is either the comments made by you or a comment by Kirk Muller (yes the Carolina Hurricanes head coach). Seems interesting.


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