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Time for Newt to Step Aside



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Senator Rick Santorum’s wins last night in Alabama and Mississippi make clear that the candidacy of Newt Gingrich for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination is no longer a viable alternative to Mitt Romney. To the contrary, should it continue, Mr. Gingrich would likely be the decisive contributor to Romney’s victory in Tampa.

I have had the privilege of knowing and at times collaborating with the former House Speaker for over a decade and a half. While we have not always agreed, I have found his grasp of history and his understanding and articulation of the challenges we face as a nation to be both impressive and inspiring.

In particular, few prominent politicians in America today have more thoroughly acquainted themselves with the developments endangering our national security than has Newt Gingrich. With his extraordinary free-range intellect and decades of service both in office, on government advisory boards and blue-ribbon commissions, and as a filmmaker, author, and candidate, Mr. Gingrich has demonstrated an unsurpassed command of the many and growing threats we face.

Newt has, for example, been the most visible figure in America to raise an alarm about what is, arguably, the single most serious danger we face in the near-term: a strategic electromagnetic pulse (EMP) attack that could destroy our electrical grid and the infrastructures that rely critically upon it. As he has repeatedly warned, such an attack would leave most of us dead within a year for lack of food, clean water, medicine, heat, telecommunications, finance, and transportation which electricity makes readily available in the 21st-century United States.

To his credit, Mr. Gingrich has written and spoken powerfully about the efforts Iran and other enemies of this country are making to be able to mount such an attack. He has called for us to take now, before it’s too late, the sort of actions that would greatly reduce our vulnerability to EMP (and, by the way, to the possibility that a naturally occurring phenomenon associated with the intense solar flaring taking place at the moment might cause similar damage).

Speaker Gingrich has also thought seriously about the implications of the relentless atrophying of our nuclear forces and the necessity of reversing it. He has addressed himself to ways we could economize in our military preparedness yet assure the sort of common defense that is going to be more needed in the future than ever — and that will be precluded if President Obama has his way.

Finally, practically no one in public life — and certainly no one running for President of the United States — has grasped as fully as Newt the principal ideological threat to freedom in our time: the totalitarian, supremacist Islamic doctrine its adherents call sharia. At a moment when most politicians are either simply clueless about the distinction between this seditious political program and the peaceful, tolerant religious practices of many Muslims, particularly in this country, or are too timorous to address it, Mr. Gingrich has been forthright, courageous and correct.

Newt has recognized the Muslim Brotherhood as an insidious enemy abroad and at home. Notably, he has used the campaign to speak repeatedly of the dangers posed by the Obama administration’s efforts to legitimate, empower and otherwise accommodate the Brotherhood, for example, by purging FBI files of materials the Islamists find offensive — but that accurately portray the threat and equip our defenders to counter it. He has also challenged Team Obama’s fraught efforts to try to “bridge” the Organization of Islamic Cooperation’s bid to prohibit expression that offends Muslims with our First Amendment rights.

The United States desperately needs an exponent of such positions in high office at this time. It is now clear, however, that that office will not be the presidency. Mr. Gingrich should accept that reality and clear the way for a man who shares his vision on these and many other issues: Rick Santorum.

As Newt himself noted last night, 70 percent of the vote in the southern primaries yesterday went to conservative candidates. This attests to the deep distrust many Republicans have of Governor Romney. It also suggests that there can only be one result from Speaker Gingrich remaining in the race from this point on: He will preclude that block of voters from coalescing and forming up behind someone who would draw the sort of sharp distinctions with President Obama that Newt and his many admirers had wanted him to do, with devastating effect, in the debates this fall.

My hope is that the country will benefit in the future, as it has in the past, from Newt Gingrich’s service at the top ranks of government. This is the time, however, for him to help elect Rick Santorum, a man I feel certain would want such a brilliant and transformative figure in his administration to provide that service once again and who would, in any event, be in fundamental alignment with the former Speaker’s vision for America.

Frank J. Gaffney Jr. formerly held senior positions in the Reagan Defense Department. He is president of the Center for Security Policy and host of the syndicated program, Secure Freedom Radio. The views expressed here are his own.



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