Monday, February 6, 2012

Why Newt hates Mitt

Since Newt hasn't said in his own words, "I hate Mitt because...," this will be somewhat speculative, though I will stay away from psychoanalytical hypotheses.

The best place to start is with the lead Newt gave in his post-Nevada press conference. Newt referenced a story in the New York Times. It's not hard to find exactly which article he's talking about. The article details some of the tactics of the Romney campaign to turn-around his loss in S. Carolina to a victory in Florida:
  • Find lines of attack that could goad Mr. Gingrich into angry responses, particularly his ethics problems in Congress and his relations with corporate clients after he resigned from the House.
  • Paint him as an erratic, unreliable Washington insider in mailings and television advertisements.
  • Air a new ad featuring a 1997 news segment in which Tom Brokaw reported that the House had “found him guilty of ethics violations.” 
  • Get Romney allies to infiltrate Gingrich campaign events and offer instant rebuttals to the crowds and media.
  • Feed large numbers of negative stories to the Drudge Report.
  • Coach Mitt to attack in debates.
  • Pack the Florida debates with vocal Romney supporters.

The attacks hit a nerve, because Gingrich has started saying this about Romney:
"Frankly I was stunned... I have never before seen a person I thought of as a serious candidate for president be that fundamentally dishonest. It was blatant and it was deliberate, and he knew he was doing it."
I'm not sure why Gingrich is attacking Romney so much, since Romney isn't only one of the candidates to have launched attack ads against Newt. In the Iowa contest, the best known attack ads came from Paul's campaign, but Romney, Perry, and Santorum all got in their licks. Perhaps it is the other tactics (ambushing him at his own campaign events), or maybe it's besting him in two debates, which had been a point of pride for Gingrich.

Another reason the attacks sting so much could be that they are true. Gingrich has a web page devoted to answering, refuting, or explaining the attacks on him. It contains 28 separate entries. Here are some of the topics for which he mounts defenses: TARP, global warming, praise for FDR, Freddie Mac, and personal life (parts I, II, and III). Mitt evidently hasn't live nearly as full a life, because he doesn't have such a page on his website.

Gingrich doesn't usually specify the exact lies that Romney tells about him. Regarding his $300,000 fine by the House, he likes to point out that an IRS investigation three years after his resignation cleared him of wrongdoing. Perhaps he feels that anyone accusing him of ethics problems is lying. However, he was sanctioned by a 395-28 vote after what was called at the time a "plea bargain negotiation." It definitely has the look of a plea bargain. Or as a commenter wrote: "Those that made you speaker do not desert you in droves if you haven't done anything wrong."

Why does Newt hate Mitt so much? I don't know, but there is plenty of grist for speculation.

Gingrich wife number 2, personal life defense number ??


Anonymous said...

The expression "pot calling the kettle 'black'" come to mind.

Gingrich is, and has always been, a political thug and dishonest demagogue. Romney had so much to work with against him that you'd think that Romney hand-picked him to be his primary sparring partner among the finalists. If Rick Perry hadn't been almost as stupid as Palin, Romney would not have had it so easy.

Santorum would definitely be harder to dispatch, which makes Gingrich's rise in South Carolina, rather than Santorum's, fortuitous for Romney. Gingrich keeps Romney's electability argument alive, particularly for those who follow national polls. A Santorum surge where his national numbers might elevate him close to Romney against Obama would be a real problem for Romney. That may still happen and if it does (or if Romney continues to sink vs. Obama) you might yet see Santorum rise.

The GOP knows Gingrich is well-known and unelectable. Santorum is not well-known but most GOP primary voters and caucus attendees don't yet know he's unelectable. Romney is clearly electable, provided he doesn't need to go out and win it. He can only win by blaming Obama for everything.

I suspect that's the real reason Gingrich hates Romney. The "I should be the nominee and president by default" argument probably offends him. This an improving economy making Romney's argument look weaker each month, Gingrich knows that Romney will probably lose anyway and Gingrich clearly thinks enough of himself to think that he would do a better job of defending the GOP's honor in defeat against the most vile, anti-American politician ever to trick a majority of people into electing him president. (His characterization and tone, not mine.)

ModeratePoli said...

Very interesting. You say:

"I suspect that's the real reason Gingrich hates Romney. The "I should be the nominee and president by default" argument probably offends him."

I think it's more likely that Gingrich to have his victory lap after SC smashed. I suppose that's why this is all speculation. None of us know. Thanks for a different opinion.

the classicist said...

MP! I just saw that you'd kindly left a "...was here" comment for me a month ago. You may have noticed that my engagement with blogging is sporadic to say the least. In particular, these last few months my husband's been facing extremely serious health difficulties, which has kind of sapped my will and ability to be clever or interesting. But I wanted to lyk that I like your Plain Blog comments too (though I guess I haven't tended to have responses to them) and that I click through and check out your blog from time to time, too. And I'm sorry I didn't see it and respond within a polite span of time.

ModeratePoli said...

@classicist, belated comments are very welcome. No one as profane as me can be a stickler for etiquette. I look forward to reading your views again when time permits.