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The Corner

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Gingrich’s Speech -- How to Make a Bad Night Worse



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Newt Gingrich’s postNevada caucus speech included about three minutes of inspired moments about issues and ideas in his usual imaginative and intellectually robust style. So why does he not just stay with that — given that he often seems more dynamic and glib than Romney in his attacks on Obama, and not long ago gained ground despite the attacks against him? Instead, he now turns ad nauseam to the tired reasons why he loses — yes, including lots of Mormons in Nevada — and ends up as Richard Nixon not going to get kicked around any more.

But whether he knows it or not, Gingrich is becoming a caricature of petulance: no concession in Nevada, no call to Romney, no awareness that his inability to raise money at levels of a political rival or to match a competing campaign organization is not necessarily unfair. That’s politics, and Gingrich knows it. I don’t understand why he thinks now losing to Romney in 2012 is solely due to Romney’s innate deviousness in a way McCain beating Romney in 2008 was not — given that Romney was about the same in both 2008 and 2012. Gingrich seems oblivious to the fact that McCain’s style and history gave him advantages over Romney’s money and hardball in ways Gingrich’s own proven liabilities apparently do not. 

Gingrich should carefully play a tape of his postNevada caucus performance, and then he would quickly grasp that it was little more than a litany of excuses, whining, and accusations — characterized by stream-of-conscious confessionals and rambling repetitions. And, I think, will hurt him more than anything yet in the campaign. 

Verdict? Gingrich is going to have to stop the accusations now, turn attention away from himself, stop complaining about the mechanics of the race, stick with critiquing Obama, and at least seem a good sport when he loses. Romney is wise to focus on Obama, ignore his rivals, and get prepped every day by staff who press him on his wealth, in efforts to inoculate him from self-inflicted, offhand remarks about the poor, money, class, etc. Gingrich’s stabs about a supposedly out-of-touch aristocrat are kid’s play compared to what will come from Obama’s $1 billion dollar Chicago hit team.



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