The Corner

It’s the Conservatism, Stupid

Mitt Romney is taking the gloves off against Newt Gingrich, but in what will probably be an ineffectual way. He’s attacking Gingrich as a long-time Washington insider, on the theory that this will hurt him among Tea Party Republicans. This misunderstands the Tea Party. Yes, it is anti-Washington insider. But above all things it is conservative. If the choice is between a conservative who was a quasi-lobbyist and creature of Washington for decades and a more moderate former governor and management consultant, the conservative is set up well to win that contest. Romney should argue 1) that Gingrich is no more conservative than he is, and 2) that he will be a more reliable conservative in the White House than Gingrich will because he is a steady man of his word who won’t go back on his commitments. If Romney cedes the ideological argument to Gingrich, he’s going to have trouble making any of his other criticisms stick.

Rich Lowry — Rich Lowry is the editor of National Review. He can be reached via email: 

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