And, as Kremer suggests, there are many tea partiers who view Gingrich favorably. Take Andrew Hemingway, who now is Gingrich’s New Hampshire state director. Back in September, Hemingway, then chairman of the Republican Liberty Caucus of New Hampshire (he was not affiliated with or paid by the Gingrich campaign at the time), protested Romney’s presence at the Tea Party Express event. “The Tea Party in New Hampshire is determined to help elect a candidate dedicated to this country’s founding principles of limited government, individual responsibility, and individual freedom,” Hemingway told ABC News regarding his opposition. “Mitt Romney is clearly not that candidate.”
Hemingway, who joined the Gingrich campaign last month, sees his new boss as nothing like Romney. “I think that Newt’s record as speaker of the House is tea-party. I think that Newt really was one of the original tea partiers,” Hemingway argues. “He led a nationwide movement, and brought about an enormous wave of Republican power, and not just Republican, but really conservative, with the Contract for America. He shrank the size of government, and he decreased the deficit by close to $5 trillion in four years as Speaker. He is tea-party.”
It’s a different story in Iowa, where Charlie Gruschow, chairman of Tea Party for America, sees no sign from conversations he has had or e-mails he has received that Gingrich is attracting tea-party voters. “The three people I see who are the most attractive to tea-party members in Iowa are Ron Paul to some degree, Michele Bachmann, and Herman Cain,” he observes.
Gruschow, who is himself a Cain supporter, says he thinks Gingrich is “a brilliant man, a tremendous historian, and saying all the right things right now.” But he worries that a President Gingrich couldn’t be trusted to “do the right thing.”
“In the past, he’s been willing to make deals,” Gruschow says. “I’m true-blue tea-party — we need fewer deals cut and more action taken to reduce spending, reduce the size of government, and get our economy moving.”
Kremer, by contrast, says, “What the tea-party movement wants is somebody who has the ideas and solutions to turn us back around and get the economy back on track; that’s what it’s all about. And a lot of people believe that he does have ideas and solutions that could help, that he understands where we are and what got us here and what we need to do to fix it.”
— Katrina Trinko is an NRO reporter.