Yesterday, Jonah warned Newt Gingrich to restrain his “Newtness” — that is, his penchant for making grandiose statements. For instance, he recently told CNN that “because I am much like Reagan and Margaret Thatcher, I’m such an unconventional political figure that you really need to design a unique campaign that fits the way I operate and what I’m trying to do.”
But Joe McQuaid, publisher of the New Hampshire Union Leader, which endorsed Gingrich yesterday, tells National Review Online he likes the speaker’s style. And through his eyes, Gingrich resembles another world-historical figure: Winston Churchill. “Look at the broad history of the guy — when’s been in the wilderness, as Churchill was — and I don’t think that’s an inaccurate comparison at all,” he says.
Asked whether Gingrich’s propensity to think — and talk — big will get him in trouble, McQuaid replies, “I think he’s grown over the years. He doesn’t speak about it, but I think his conversion to Catholicism brought him down a peg or two.”
“He’ll still argue with you though,” McQuaid adds. During one of his three interviews with the paper this year, Gingrich tried to argue that his infamous “right-wing social engineering” comment wasn’t about Rep. Paul Ryan’s proposed budget. McQuaid remembers his response: “Yeah. Right.”
McQuaid thinks Gingrich’s out-of-the-box approach sets him apart. “Nobody thinks at that level,” he says. “They stay within whatever margin the pollsters and advisers have [given] them.”
“Gingrich doesn’t do that,” McQuaid maintains. “He goes off the deep end and throws things out there, and I think that’s what they need.” The publisher particularly enjoyed Gingrich’s contention at an event in Boston that public high schools should “get rid of high-priced unionized janitors and put the brooms in the hands of kids and get them to clean the school . . . not to save money but to teach kids about the ethic of work.”
What’s more, McQuaid appreciates Gingrich’s candor: “I liked his line that sitting on the couch with Pelosi was the stupidest thing he’s ever done.”