Newt Gingrich's campaign comeback is so total that one of dozen staffers who quit his campaign in June is publicly begging to be rehired.
"Newt, if I let you down, I'm sorry," Rick Tyler told NPR's Guy Raz, showering his former boss with praise -- "the smartest political strategist in the country bar none," and noting, "I should have had the long view which Newt did."
Gingrich is feeling pretty confident, too. He admitted to Newsweek's Peter J. Boyer that six months ago, "I got fairly tired of doing radio shows with people who would say, 'Well, so since you’re dead...' " But those dark times did not give Gingrich a sense of humility, or even a feeling that he should pretend to be humble in public. His big mistake back then was not helping his aides adapt to the rigorous intellectual atmosphere of his campaign.
Gingrich told Boyer that with his first campaign staff, “We were trying to merge the tactical, political capabilities of people who don’t know anything [political consultants, Boyer explains] with a system that is probably the most complex DNA in politics.... And it was just hopeless.”
Now, staffers must be Gingrich-ized. “I realized that if you don’t methodically go through acculturation, this is not going to work... Because this is too different -- it’s too intellectual, it’s too fast, it’s too delegated.” Oddly, many of the staffers who quit had worked for Gingrich for some time -- like Tyler, for example, who had been Gingrich's spokesman for 12 years.
As Gingrich's poll numbers rise, his confidence is surging. He tells crowds at campaign appearances that he's the guy they'd want to have in charge in case of an electromagnetic-pulse attack, The New York Times's William J. Broad writes, which the candidate has said could wipe out "our civilization in a matter of seconds." (Many scientists are skeptical of this vision.) He's confident enough to tell Boyer that his wife, Callista, is the one who kept him in the race, despite reports that she made campaigning difficult -- and a current staffer's complaint that "[s]he’s "really very hard to deal with." He's confident enough to compare himself to not one but two Roosevelts, telling Newsweek that his willingness to experiment with antipoverty programs "makes me, in some ways, like the two Roosevelts."
And he's feeling so confident that his campaign will explain in detail how it manipulates the media, giving an example of getting The New Hampshire Union Leader, which endorsed him Thanksgiving weekend, to let him attack rivals while keeping his no-negative-attacks promise. The Times's Trip Gabriel reports:
Even though Mr. Gingrich publicly insists that he will take the high road with a positive campaign that does not criticize other Republicans, he recently strayed from that vow, offering himself as an anonymous source in a New Hampshire newspaper last week to reply to criticism by John H. Sununu.... Mr. Sununu told the newspaper, The Union Leader, that Mr. Gingrich supported a tax increase deal that the first President Bush made with Democrats in 1990, then reversed himself. The newspaper, quoting a source identified as “a senior aide in the Gingrich campaign,” elaborately rebutted this account. Mr. Hammond said the source was actually Mr. Gingrich, who did not want to be identified to avoid the impression he was getting into a fight with the Romney camp.