Newt’s Big Week

January 19th, 2012

Here are just a few of the things that happened in GOP Presidential Politics this week.

Facing an urgent need to rally around a candidate other than Romney, a group of social conservative evangelical leaders met in Texas and decided to endorse Rick Santorum. They did this just as Republican voters in South Carolina started to rally around Newt Gingrich  as the alternative to Romney, effectively affirming the Radical Right’s marginal status in a GOP process that always gives lip service to their cause, but never lets their looney candidates get elected.

On Monday, John Huntsman dropped out of the race and endorsed Mitt Romney, leading most people to ask “Is John Huntsman still running for president?” Mitt Romney was particularly grateful for the endorsement and expressed that gratitude by largely ignoring his former rivals endorsement, acknowledging it only with a written statement released by his campaign in the afternoon. 

Later that night, Gingrich stole the show at the South Carolina debate, with his condescending response to Juan Williams’ questions about Newt’s outrageously racially charged statements on food stamps and black people’s work ethics. The exchange brought condemnation from familiar liberal quarters, but the rabid South Carolina crowd ate it up with a great big spoon, giving Newt an extended standing ovation. Newt and the other candidates hammered away at Romney, who gave halting answers to questions on topics ranging from his tax returns to his hunting habits. Under pressure, Romney agreed that he would release his returns in April.

This, in turn, led to another in a series of stumbles from Romney on Tuesday when he explained that his effective tax rate was “closer to the 15% rate” because most of it came from capital gains.

It’s probably closer to the 15 percent rate than anything. For the past 10 years, my income comes overwhelmingly from investments made in the past, rather than ordinary income or earned annual income. I got a little bit of income from my book, but I gave that all away. Then, I get speakers fees from time to time, but not very much.

That “not very much” number turned out to be $374,000, which-if you’re keeping score at home is about 9 times what the median South Carolinian makes a year.

On the same day, Sarah Palin said on Fox News that, if she were voting in South Carolina, she would vote for Newt, in order to “keep this thing going,” since four years ago we made a mistake with having a candidate “that was not vetted to the degree he should have been” (I swear to God she said that).  

But in a GOP primary process that has been entertaining (if nothing else) today was what Politico called the campaign’s wildest day. This morning, Rick Perry announced that he was suspending his campaign and endorsing Newt. Soon after this news broke, it was revealed that Newt’s 2nd ex-wife Marianne told ABC News that when Newt told her of his affair with Callista (whom he eventually married) he had requested an “open marriage” so that he could continue to keep Callista as a mistress while he was married to Marianne. Also, this morning it was announced that Rick Santorum actually won the Iowa Caucuses and Mitt Romney graciously called him (more than two weeks later) to concede the election.

John King apparently thought it would be a good idea to start the debate this evening with a question about Newt’s “open marriage” proposal and Newt once again used the “blame the media” argument that always works so well with GOP audiences, and again led to a standing ovation from the audience. Most pundits agreed that Rick Santorum out-debated Gingrich, but I am willing to bet that 90% of newscasts across America led with Newt getting a standing ovation for taking yet another debate moderator to the woodshed.

Within a half hour after the debate ended, Newt had surged from a 40% favorite to win the South Carolina Primary to a 65% favorite on Intrade and Nate Silver’s South Carolina forecast now shows Newt pulling even with Romney and ranks him as a 62% favorite to win South Carolina.

Not a bad week at all for the former Speaker, but more importantly, a terrible week for the presumptive nominee.

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One Response to “Newt’s Big Week”

  1. Paul McKernan Says:

    Hey Phil,
    Great synopsis….
    Nobody ever told Newt about that Catholic thing (that he just conveniently bought in to ) called the sin of omission. Just because you haven’t discussed it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t have. This bastard batters Clinton, calls it perjury, does every thing he can to make the White House a living hell, the media feeds on it like ants on a dying bee and the arrogant shit has the nerve to say he’s being picked on……????? That his indiscretions, that he, understandably is reluctant to have dredged up, aren’t fair game..?? Wow!
    World and Olympic champion of “mixed double standards.”
    Can only hope he’s the Republican candidate.