Newt’s Fatal Flaw

If Newt Gingrich ends up losing Florida tomorrow—as polls now agree he will—and ultimately loses the GOP nomination, you could hear the most important reason in just a few words he uttered in a Tampa suburb on Sunday. The former House speaker stepped out of a church service at the delightfully named Exciting Idlewild Baptist Church and opened fire on Mitt Romney as a “pro-abortion, pro gun-control, pro-tax increase moderate from Massachusetts” who had “carpet-bombed” his way to a lead in the Florida polls. That wasn’t the problematic part. It was this: "I have had a long record as a very hard-hitting Reagan conservative, and the idea that that record would be deliberately falsified by a Massachusetts moderate using money from Wall Street … is really about as big an outrage as I've had in my career.” Gingrich’s only chance to take the nomination is as the leader of a movement—loosely defined, the Tea Party movement—and he spoke to its anti-elitist streak powerfully in his dramatic victory in South Carolina. But you can’t lead a movement when everything you say eventually comes back to you, above all else. It can’t be my outrage; it has to be our outrage. But instead of effectively casting the Romney campaign as the enemy of all anti-establishment conservatives—as Sarah Palin and Herman Cain tried to do for him over the weekend—Gingrich seems incapable of putting the brakes on his megalomania. From Bachmann to Perry, Cain to Santorum to Gingrich, the story of this entire GOP contest has been that Tea Party Republicans have the numbers, but they have not had a candidate. 

 

So They Say

"We need to let President Obama, Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, and my dear friend the chairman of the Democrat National Committee [Debbie Wasserman Schultz], we need to let them know that Florida ain't on the table. Take your message of equality of achievement, take your message of economic dependency, take your message of enslaving the entrepreneurial will and spirit of the American people somewhere else. You can take it to Europe, you can take it to the bottom of the sea, you can take it to the North Pole, but get the hell out of the United States of America."
Representative Allen West, R-Florida, speaking at a Lincoln Day Dinner in West Palm Beach 
 

Daily Meme: O Jeb, Where Art Thou?  

  • The New York Times reports that the Romney camp has tried to woo him and that “Florida Bush” told Romney he didn’t like his harsh tone on immigration.
  • Romney tells The Washington Post: “Jeb and I haven’t spoken.” 
  • “It doesn’t look good,” says Rush Limbaugh.
  • Is it because a brokered convention might turn to Bush? 
  • He did slam Gingrich for comparing Romney to Charlie Crist, though. 
  • The plot thickens: Last Friday, Jeb and Daddy Bush were at the White House, meeting secretly with President Obama. 

 

What We're Writing

Patrick Caldwell reports from Florida on the GOP’s old-time religion. 
It’s not just the GOP “establishment” that has doomed Gingrich in Florida, writes Paul Waldman. 
 

What We're Reading

 
 

Polls of the Day

The latest numbers from Florida show Romney’s lead over Gingrich ranging from 5 percent to 20 percent.
 
 

 

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