Why Gingrich Lost His Groove

Has Newt Gingrich floundered in Florida because he doesn’t understand his own appeal to GOP voters? In South Carolina, the former house speaker hit upon an anti-elite message that goes straight to the heart of the Tea Party—and the political moment. It was nothing new: the kind of silent-majority red meat that white conservatives have eagerly consumed since the days of Wallace and Nixon (not to mention Bush and Palin). But it was a message tuned to a time when Americans are increasingly cognizant of wealth disparities, and aware that elites have cornered the market on economic opportunity. Tea Partiers might not like to hear about “punishing success,” or about share-the-wealth policies—for them, the oppressive class is viewed mostly in cultural terms. Gingrich found in South Carolina, perhaps by happy accident, a message (or an attitude) that spoke to them—one that no other GOP candidate was offering. But instead of continuing to hammer home that pitchfork populism and energize the Tea Party behind him, Gingrich went back this week to being the “idea candidate,” the visionary philosopher-king who wants to build a moon colony and make it the 51st state. He stopped hitting Romney on his 1-percentism even as more damning evidence piled up. He failed to rouse the rabble in this week’s debates. And he may end up blowing it on Tuesday—and eventually losing the Republican nomination—because he didn’t grasp what gave him a chance to win it in the first place. 

 

So They Say

“I don’t think we should go to moon. I think we maybe should send some politicians up there.” 
Ron Paul, asked about Gingrich’s moon-colony idea at the Jacksonville debate 
 

Daily Meme: Mitt's Fibs

  • “I doubt that’s my ad,” Romney said about a Florida spot claiming Gingrich called Spanish “the language of the ghetto.” As Wolf Blitzer pointed out, it is. 
  • He falsely accused Obama of saying "nothing" about the Palestinians launching rockets into Israel during a 2009 speech to the United Nations. 
  • He claimed he’d never voted for a Democrat when there was a Republican on the ballot. He did
  • His Fannie and Freddie investments are not all in a blind trust.
  • He did inherit some money from his parents.
 

What We're Writing

  • Patrick Caldwell thinks that Romney’s shaky defense of Massachusetts’ health-care mandate will continue to haunt his campaign. 
  • The Republicans’ hawkishness on Iran won’t help them in the fall, says Paul Waldman. 
 

What We're Reading

  • It ain’t over after Florida—not with only 3.8 percent of GOP delegates chosen.
  • Associates say Ron Paul signed off on—and proofread—bigoted newsletter articles.
  • Herman Cain and Sarah Palin vouch for Gingrich’s Reagan-conservative credentials. 
  • Campaign spending by Wall Street elites has risen 700 percent in the last two decades. 
  • Why are old guard Republicans at war with Gingrich? 
  • Romney and Gingrich’s big feud over Reagan’s journals.
  • Peggy Noonan sees Gingrich-Romney as a new iteration of an old GOP split. 

 

Poll of the Day

Gingrich leads nationally, but Romney has retaken his lead in Florida. 

 

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