From the Thursday Morning Jolt:
Newt: ‘National Review’s right. Donald Trump’s not a conservative.’
“National Review’s right. Donald Trump’s not a conservative.”
– Newt Gingrich in February
Wow. This leak is going to make any Trump-Gingrich ticket awkward:
Newt Gingrich, a leading candidate to be Donald Trump’s running mate, told Republicans at a closed-door meeting earlier this year that Trump is not a conservative, speaks to voters “at the lowest level of any candidate in either party,” and could lose in a landslide if he didn’t significantly change his approach to campaigning.
Gingrich suggested Trump’s move from campaigning to governing would be challenging: “How we make the transition from, you know, language for fourth graders to real policy, I don’t know.”
Gingrich spoke for just over half an hour to the Republican group’s Feb. 29 meeting in Washington, devoting about 10 minutes to Trump. His comments were a mix of pointed criticism and awe at Trump’s political skills. He likened Trump’s approach to “some weird combination of the Kardashians” soliciting hearty laughs from the audience. “I mean think about it, the whole tweeting, the whole continuous noise.”
Throughout much of the talk, Gingrich praised Trump’s prowess as a politician and negotiator, noting his success on TV, in real estate development and other ventures. He called him a change agent who effectively guts his political rivals: “He’s the grizzly bear in the room. He’s not normal.”
At one point, Gingrich suggested he was shocked to hear of a highly educated supporter of Trump’s. “I had a very sophisticated medical doctor in Des Moines write me two days ago and say he sent a thousand dollar check to Trump. And I wrote back and said what are you doing?” Gingrich said to laughs. “He said I have finally concluded that we have to kick over the table in Washington.”
Man, which Newt Gingrich rival has been sitting on this for five or six months? Whoever it is, that person is the Michael Jordan of leak timing.
The leak also shows Gingrich didn’t think Trump would be sticking to his confrontational, angry, lashing-out tone this far into the year.
Gingrich suggested Trump would lose big if he didn’t change his style in the general election campaign to follow Ronald Reagan rather than Barry Goldwater. Reagan in his successful 1980 campaign united Republicans around a compelling message of optimism, while Goldwater’s 1964 campaign failed when many voters perceived him as a candidate of the extreme right. Gingrich said he thought Trump would make this pivot.
“If he and his team understand this,” Gingrich said, “I suspect they will evolve rapidly.”
So much for the theory of rapid evolution.
Was Newt Gingrich the leading candidate to be Trump’s running mate heading into last night? Is he still this morning? Will Trump shrug it off? (Give Trump a little credit, he’s apparently strongly considering Indiana Governor Mike Pence, who endorsed Ted Cruz in the primary, albeit in a wishy-washy way.)
It’s tough to shake the feeling that Trump has some other candidate, one who hasn’t been mentioned, to be unveiled as a giant surprise.
Just take a moment to appreciate that leak timing and that deep stab into Gingrich’s back. It’s like watching Steph Curry hit a shot from an impossible range, nothing but net.
Savoring the exquisite timing of the Newt "National Review is right, Trump's no conservative" leak. pic.twitter.com/EAaswFyhfX
— Jim Geraghty (@jimgeraghty) July 14, 2016