“Creating jobs and getting back to 4% unemployment is the msot important step to a balanced budget.” –Newt Gingrich
A survey of 746 likely Republican primary voters in New Hampshire, conducted on November 15th and November 16th, 2011, showed Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney are in a statistical dead heat in NH, 29% to 27%. This is supposed to be Romney’s territory, so a possible upset is in the making. Rick Perry, the subject of a previous article in this series, came in at just 2%. Gingrich also has a 13-point lead over Mitt Romney in Iowa and a double digit lead over him in California.
Ever the erudite professor, Gingrich certainly has that indefinable quality of gravitas that many pundits question whether or not our presidential candidates have. Indeed, most remember him as Speaker of the House during the Clinton presidency (1995-1999) and the architect of the Republican Contract With America. So what do veterans think of Gingrich’s frontrunner status?
We asked a number of veterans this simple question: “Newt Gingrich: Yes or No?” Our own poll resulted in the following:
No: 64%; Yes: 27%; Maybe: 9%
The veterans participating in this poll live across the United States, from California to Connecticut, and 25% of them live here in Austin.
Some of the respondents included comments with their vote. One Austinite, a former pilot in the Air Force said, “He pandered to Global Warming”, no doubt remembering Newt’s infamous television ad where he appeared “reaching across the aisle” with Nancy Pelosi. Needless to say, Gingrich later said he regretted doing the ad.
Our CT veteran said, “No. Absolutely not, under any circumstances.” And one other said, “He and Clinton have the same morals”.
Most of those, not in favor of Newt Gingrich, may have primarily made their decision on social issues such as multiple marriages and possible philandering rather than policy issues. But let’s examine several points in both, beginning with social issues. There is enough information here on both topics for many readers to think twice about supporting him.
Gingrich has been married three times. He has been accused of having several extramarital affairs, although he only admitted to one — with the woman who became his third (present) wife.
And one ever-present myth is the story that Gingrich presented divorce papers to his wife at the time as she lay dying of cancer in her hospital bed. There may be a lot of “truths” about Gingrich, but this particular story lies definitely in the “not true” category.
Let’s examine those pestering non-social issues. The Center For Individual Freedom has a weekly history quiz entitled “Question of the Week”. Their question for the week of November 17th, 2011, was quite timely: “Which one of the following Members of Congress was disciplined for ethical wrongdoing while serving as Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives?” From the selections of Newt Gingrich (R-GA), Dennis Hastert (R-IL), Thomas P. (Tip) O’Neill (D-MA), and Jim Wright (D-TX), the answer, of course, was Newt.
A summary of Newt’s ethical dilemma was published in the Washington Post by then reporter John E. Yang. In his article, entitled “House Reprimands, Penalizes Speaker”, Yang wrote: “The House voted overwhelmingly yesterday to reprimand House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-GA) and order him to pay an unprecedented $300,000 penalty, the first time in the House’s 208-year history it has disciplined a speaker for ethical wrongdoing.” And Wikipedia.com reminds us that “during his term as Speaker, eighty-four ethics charges were filed against him; eighty-three were dropped.”
However emboldened by his recent surge in ever-changing Republican presidential nomination race, hopeful Gingrich launched a new webpage to preemptively ward off attacks by his opponents. “Answering the Attacks” takes on 16 potential vulnerabilities, from his two divorces and admitted adultery, as previously mentioned, to the particular issue of a new Republican healthcare plan.
Gingrich may have a large campaign chest. He raised $52 million over the last four years via his American Solutions for Winning the Future (ASWF), a 527 committee. The IRS allows these committees to collect unlimited amounts of money from both individuals and corporations but cannot directly donate to political campaigns. However, they can make radio and television ads that are for or against particular candidates. During the 2009-2010 cycle (each cycle is two years), ASWF was ranked by the watchdog group Open Secrets as the number one committee in raising money ($28 M). Note: the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) came in with #2 ($15 M) and the College Republican National Committee at #6 ($8 M). However, it should be noted that a political blog maintained by The New York Times reported this past August that ASWF recently went bankrupt after Gingrich announced his candidacy for president and severed his ties with the group – as required by law
Now that Newt’s candidacy is rising to the top, expect more brickbats to be thrown at him. One of the first to fly was the charge that he was paid off by Freddie Mac to do their bidding as the company, in concert with Fannie Mae, flooded the world with funny money mortgages and brought on the global collapse of 2008. Indeed, the Gingrich Center took in $37M from various healthcare companies such as Blue Cross Blue Shield.
However, in responding to the accusation that he took the money while being a lobbyist for these companies, Gingrich said, “I was approached to offer strategic advice — I did no lobbying of any kind — I never have.”
One pundit accused Gingrich as being a “free-trade Kool-Aid drinker” because of previous statements he made back in the 90s and the fact that he does not address free-trade issues on his current website. It is true that Gingrich does not specifically mention these issues on the website; however, all of the issues he does, do indeed support free trade.
And, although Gingrich proclaimed he a supporter a non-amnesty solution to the immigration problem, former Congressman and Governor Tom Tancredo said that Gingrich’s support for the Kriebel Foundation’s “Red Card Solution” is a problem. Tancredo said, “whereas the Red Card program does not convey citizenship, it does provide a legal path to citizenship to those illegal aliens who are already here.”
Three marriages. Two divorces. Add up the numbers, and, at this point in time, Newt Gingrich is an improbable candidate to win over the influential social-conservative bloc in the GOP – which will be necessary for him to win the nomination.
Thus, the tide has changed again. Since early this year, there have been four frontrunners to challenge Gov. Mitt Romney. In order, they are: Rep. Michelle Bachmann, Texas Governor Rick Perry, businessman Herman Cain, and now Former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Newt Gingrich. The questions are: assuming Romney will still keep a nominal percentage in the polls, “Will Gingrich maintain his lead?” Or “Who will be next candidate to take over the ‘frontrunner’ status?”