Skip Navigation

Close and don't show again.

Your browser is out of date.

You may not get the full experience here on National Journal.

Please upgrade your browser to any of the following supported browsers:

Victory Out of Reach, Will Gingrich Damage His Party and Legacy? Victory Out of Reach, Will Gingrich Damage His Party and Legacy?

This ad will end in seconds
 
Close X

Not a member? Learn More »

Forget Your Password?

Don't have an account? Register »

Reveal Navigation
 

 

Politics / Campaign 2012

Victory Out of Reach, Will Gingrich Damage His Party and Legacy?

The former speaker winds down his presidential campaign, but not his rhetoric.

Newt Gingrich speaks at Georgetown University Wednesday in Washington, D.C.(AP Photo/Haraz N. Ghanbari)

photo of Alex  Roarty
March 28, 2012

As his campaign winds down, the big questions hanging over Newt Gingrich’s run for president are why he’s so determined to keep at it, and whether he will tarnish his legacy or hurt the Republican Party in the process. 

Gingrich still has a chance to bow out of the race gracefully before the August convention, redirecting his rhetorical fire from GOP front-runner Mitt Romney and focusing instead on President Obama.

But a continued jeremiad against the likely Republican nominee, including an insistence on taking his campaign to the convention, will tarnish Gingrich’s legacy, some GOP figures say. To them, Gingrich's determination to stick around in hopes of claiming the nomination at a contested convention is another in a string of recent signals that he is headed for an ignominious exit. 

 

“The strategy and tactics are obvious and sad, frankly,” said Rich Galen, a former Gingrich aide in the 1990s who has been critical of his presidential campaign. “They don’t make any sense outside the reality-distortion field of Newt Gingrich.

“It’s kind of, he’s reduced to Buddy Roemer status almost,” Galen added, referring to the long-shot candidacy of the former Louisiana governor. “Why would you do this and go from object of admiration to an object of pity, which I think is the danger.”

Gingrich has said he plans to promote ideas and refrain from criticizing his rivals. But such vows haven't lasted long in earlier phases of the campaign. And even if he sticks to attacking Obama, his penchant for controversial rhetoric could prove damaging to him and his party.

That appeared to already happen last week, when Gingrich drew widespread criticism after going after Obama on a pair of touchy subjects.

At a campaign stop in Louisiana, Gingrich said the misperception that Obama is a Muslim is at least partly the president’s own fault. “Why does the president behave the way that people would think that?” he asked. “You have to ask, why would they believe that? It's not because they're stupid.”

Later, in an appearance on Sean Hannity’s radio show, Gingrich said Obama’s statement on the death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin (that if he had a son, he would "look like Trayvon") was “disgraceful.” 

That drew a forceful push back from Obama senior adviser David Plouffe. “Those comments are reprehensible," Plouffe said on ABC’s This Week. “And, you know, Speaker Gingrich is clearly in the last throes of his political career.”

Even most Republicans say Gingrich's presidential campaign, if not his political career, should be over. A CNN/ORC poll released on Tuesday reported that 60 percent of Republicans think he should end his campaign. That’s a number that could spike even higher if Gingrich uses his remaining time in the spotlight to bash Romney, which could lead to criticism that he’s only helping Obama win reelection. 

“I think Newt could best be served by not attacking Romney but keeping focus on Obama,” said John Feehery, a GOP strategist and former House aide. “Slicing up our nominee is not helpful if your ultimate goal is to beat Obama.”

For Feehery, Gingrich’s legacy is far from tarnished. Gingrich has already run a far more competitive campaign than expected, he said, and can salvage what’s left by training his fire exclusively on the current White House occupant. Besides, he added, his real legacy is already cemented as the architect of the Republican House takeover in 1994 -- the first time in 40 years the GOP had won control of the House.

Rick Tyler, a former Gingrich aide who helps run the super PAC allied with Gingrich, said the former speaker's legacy is secure pretty much regardless of what he does. “I don’t think Teddy Roosevelt’s legacy was negatively affected, and Teddy actually left the party and created a third party,” Tyler said. “And Newt isn’t going to do that.”

Still, as Tyler acknowledged in the wake of Gingrich’s disappointing defeats earlier this month in the Alabama and Mississippi primaries, fundraising for his super PAC will be a challenge. And polls indicate his most realistic goal in several upcoming primaries isn’t winning, but managing to finish ahead of Texas Rep. Ron Paul.

A Marquette University poll in Wisconsin released on Tuesday found Gingrich was in fourth place in the four-man field, at just 5 percent. In Pennsylvania -- where he was born and where he made his first media splash, at age 11, by lobbying Harrisburg officials to open a zoo -- a new Franklin & Marshall College poll had him in last place with 6 percent.

Polls like these are strong indicators that claiming the nomination is out reach for Gingrich. But preserving his legacy and helping his party are not.

 

As his campaign winds down, the big questions hanging over Newt Gingrich’s run for president are why he’s so determined to keep at it, and whether he will tarnish his legacy or hurt the Republican Party in the process. 
The former House speaker will give his answer the next few months as he continues his longshot bid for the GOP nomination – potentially lasting, as he indicated Tuesday, until August’s Republican National Convention. Gingrich still has a chance, some Republicans contend, to bow out of the race gracefully, averting his rhetorical fire from GOP front-runner Mitt Romney and focusing instead on President Obama. 
But a continued jeremiad against the likely Republican nominee, including an insistence on taking his campaign to the convention, will tarnish Gingrich’s legacy, other GOP officials say. To them, his decision to focus on the convention is another in a string of recent signals that the onetime House GOP leader is headed for an ignominious exit. 
“The strategy and tactics are obvious and sad, frankly,” said Rich Galen, a former Gingrich aide in the 1990s who has been critical of his presidential campaign. “They don’t make any sense outside reality distortion field of Newt Gingrich.
“It’s kind of, he’s reduced to Buddy Roemer-status almost,” he added, referring to the longshot former Louisiana governor running for president. “Why would you do this and go from object of admiration to an object of pity, which I think is the danger.”
Part of the danger is Gingrich’s penchant for controversial rhetoric – a problems that’s hindered him throughout his career – could re-emerge as he’s reduced to a minor player on the presidential circuit. That appeared to already happen last week, when the White House contender drew widespread scorn after criticizing President Obama on a pair of touchy subjects. At a campaign stop in Louisiana, he said the misperception that Obama is a Muslim is at least partly the president’s own fault. 
“Why does the president behave the way that people would think that?” he asked. “You have to ask, why would they believe that? It's not because they're stupid.”
Later, in appearance on Sean Hannity’s radio show, he said Obama’s statement on the death of 17-year-old Florida boy Trayvon Martin was “disgraceful,” a comment that drew a forceful pushback from Obama senior adviser David Plouffe. 
“Those comments are reprehensible," Plouffe said on ABC’s This Week. “And, you know, Speaker Gingrich is clearly in the last throes of his political career.”
Even Republicans think his presidential campaign, if not his political career, should be near its conclusion. A CNN/ORC poll released Tuesday reported 60 percent of them thought he should end his campaign. That’s a number that could spike even higher if the presidential candidate uses his remaining time in the spotlight to trash Romney, which could lead to criticism he’s only helping Obama to re-election. 
“I think Newt could best be served by not attacking Romney but keeping focus on Obama,” said John Feehery, a GOP strategist and former House aide. “Slicing up our nominee is not helpful if your ultimate goal is to beat Obama.”
For Feehery, Gingrich’s legacy is far from tarnished. Gingrich has already run a far more competitive campaign than expected, he said, and can salvage what’s left by training his fire exclusively on the current White House occupant. Besides, he added, his real legacy is already cemented as the leader of the conservative revolution in the 1994 mid-terms. 
“For Newt to be useful, and he’s a pretty talented rhetoric guy, he needs to focus his message on beating Obama in the fall,” he said. 
Other Gingrich allies are more bullish about his image. Rick Tyler, a former Gingrich aide who helps run the Super PAC on his former boss’s behalf, said Gingrich’s legacy is secure regardless of what he does. 
“I don’t Teddy Roosevelt’s legacy was negatively affected, and teddy actually left the party and created a third party,” Tyler said. “And Newt isn’t going to do that.”
Still, as Tyler acknowledged in the wake of Gingrich’s twin disappointing defeats earlier this month in the Alabama and Mississippi primaries, fundraising for his Super PAC will be a “challenge.” And polls indicate his most realistic goal in several upcoming primaries isn’t winning, but just finishing ahead of Texas Rep. Ron Paul. A Marquette University poll of Wisconsin released Tuesday reported Gingrich was in fourth place in the four-man field, at just 5 percent. In a Franklin & Marshall College poll of Pennsylvania released Wednesday, he was again in last place in the state where he was born.As his campaign winds down, the big questions hanging over Newt Gingrich’s run for president are why he’s so determined to keep at it, and whether he will tarnish his legacy or hurt the Republican Party in the process. The former House speaker will give his answer the next few months as he continues his longshot bid for the GOP nomination – potentially lasting, as he indicated Tuesday, until August’s Republican National Convention. Gingrich still has a chance, some Republicans contend, to bow out of the race gracefully, averting his rhetorical fire from GOP front-runner Mitt Romney and focusing instead on President Obama. But a continued jeremiad against the likely Republican nominee, including an insistence on taking his campaign to the convention, will tarnish Gingrich’s legacy, other GOP officials say. To them, his decision to focus on the convention is another in a string of recent signals that the onetime House GOP leader is headed for an ignominious exit. “The strategy and tactics are obvious and sad, frankly,” said Rich Galen, a former Gingrich aide in the 1990s who has been critical of his presidential campaign. “They don’t make any sense outside reality distortion field of Newt Gingrich.“It’s kind of, he’s reduced to Buddy Roemer-status almost,” he added, referring to the longshot former Louisiana governor running for president. “Why would you do this and go from object of admiration to an object of pity, which I think is the danger.”Part of the danger is Gingrich’s penchant for controversial rhetoric – a problems that’s hindered him throughout his career – could re-emerge as he’s reduced to a minor player on the presidential circuit. That appeared to already happen last week, when the White House contender drew widespread scorn after criticizing President Obama on a pair of touchy subjects. At a campaign stop in Louisiana, he said the misperception that Obama is a Muslim is at least partly the president’s own fault. “Why does the president behave the way that people would think that?” he asked. “You have to ask, why would they believe that? It's not because they're stupid.”Later, in appearance on Sean Hannity’s radio show, he said Obama’s statement on the death of 17-year-old Florida boy Trayvon Martin was “disgraceful,” a comment that drew a forceful pushback from Obama senior adviser David Plouffe. “Those comments are reprehensible," Plouffe said on ABC’s This Week. “And, you know, Speaker Gingrich is clearly in the last throes of his political career.”Even Republicans think his presidential campaign, if not his political career, should be near its conclusion. A CNN/ORC poll released Tuesday reported 60 percent of them thought he should end his campaign. That’s a number that could spike even higher if the presidential candidate uses his remaining time in the spotlight to trash Romney, which could lead to criticism he’s only helping Obama to re-election. “I think Newt could best be served by not attacking Romney but keeping focus on Obama,” said John Feehery, a GOP strategist and former House aide. “Slicing up our nominee is not helpful if your ultimate goal is to beat Obama.”For Feehery, Gingrich’s legacy is far from tarnished. Gingrich has already run a far more competitive campaign than expected, he said, and can salvage what’s left by training his fire exclusively on the current White House occupant. Besides, he added, his real legacy is already cemented as the leader of the conservative revolution in the 1994 mid-terms. “For Newt to be useful, and he’s a pretty talented rhetoric guy, he needs to focus his message on beating Obama in the fall,” he said. Other Gingrich allies are more bullish about his image. Rick Tyler, a former Gingrich aide who helps run the Super PAC on his former boss’s behalf, said Gingrich’s legacy is secure regardless of what he does. “I don’t Teddy Roosevelt’s legacy was negatively affected, and teddy actually left the party and created a third party,” Tyler said. “And Newt isn’t going to do that.”Still, as Tyler acknowledged in the wake of Gingrich’s twin disappointing defeats earlier this month in the Alabama and Mississippi primaries, fundraising for his Super PAC will be a “challenge.” And polls indicate his most realistic goal in several upcoming primaries isn’t winning, but just finishing ahead of Texas Rep. Ron Paul. A Marquette University poll of Wisconsin released Tuesday reported Gingrich was in fourth place in the four-man field, at just 5 percent. In a Franklin & Marshall College poll of Pennsylvania released Wednesday, he was again in last place in the state where he was born.
More Politics
Job Board
Search Jobs
Biomedical Service Internship Position
American Society of Civil Engineers | Flint, MI
Fire Sprinkler Inspector
American Society of Civil Engineers | Charlotte, NC
Professional Development Program Engineer
American Society of Civil Engineers | Farmington Hills, MI
Deputy Director of Transit Operations
American Society of Civil Engineers | San Jose, CA
Transportation Planner
American Society of Civil Engineers | Salinas, CA
Assistant Professor - Water Resources/Ecological Engineering
American Society of Civil Engineers | Auburn, AL
Product Manager - Chemical Development and Supply - Tulsa, OK
American Society of Civil Engineers | Tulsa, OK
Commissioning Intern
American Society of Civil Engineers | Chicago, IL
Assessment and Remediation Team Lead
American Society of Civil Engineers | Regina, SK
Business Development Manager
American Society of Civil Engineers
Sr. Controls Systems Engineer
American Society of Civil Engineers | Grand Island, NE
Senior Project Manager- Transportation
American Society of Civil Engineers | San Antonio, TX
Materials Engineer 2
American Society of Civil Engineers | IL
Land Surveyor
American Society of Civil Engineers
Quality Engineer
American Society of Civil Engineers | Attica, IN
 
Comments
comments powered by Disqus