The heavyweights — Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich — stood toe-to-toe in their first of two Florida debates before next Tuesday’s primary. Neither delivered a knockdown, or a knockout punch, but Romney struck the more important blows as he sought to paint Gingrich as a Washington insider who made money off institutions and policies he claimed to oppose.
Instead of allowing himself to be drawn into Romney’s orbit and have to defend himself, during the next debate Gingrich needs to say something like this: “Look, when the economy is being destroyed by this president and congressional Democrats, when the jobless rate is unacceptable — and most unacceptable to those without work — the American people don’t care about playground name-calling or what they see as our pettiness. They want results. And these are the results they can expect if I am fortunate enough to be elected president.” And then he should name some.
To assuage fears of some who think he is erratic, Gingrich should announce a core group of people he intends to bring on his staff who will help hold him accountable and faithful to conservative principles. A conservative Congress would also help, and he should convincingly make that pitch, casting Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid as a one-man blockade to any legislation that would improve the economy and the jobs picture.
Gingrich must get on offense, not so much against Romney, but more against Obama and demonstrate why he is the best debater and the best candidate to destroy Obama’s image as a charismatic speaker and magnetic personality. Non-establishment Republican voters are tired of being told they must split the difference and elect a moderate who can get along with Democrats. Their goal should be the political destruction of Democrats so they can prove Republican policies work. Democrats seek power to govern and enact their agenda. Too often, Republicans want to get elected so they can manage the welfare state. It’s the difference between painting a decrepit building and taking a wrecking ball to it.