Nonprofit, independent journalism. Supported by readers.


Don’t get on a tag team with Newt Gingrich

Does even Newt Gingrich know what is keeping Newt Gingrich in the race?

I’m not sure you want to have Newt Gingrich as your tag-team partner.

When last we addressed the topic of what is keeping Newt Gingrich in the race for the Repub presidential nomination, Gingrich had just lost the Alabama and Mississippi primaries (after his spokester had said that he had to win them both to remain a credible candidate). But Gingrich announced that he would stay in the race anyway. He described a “tag-team” approach that he and Rick Santorum would use to keep Mitt Romney from reaching the magic number of delegates for a first ballot nomination.

It didn’t really make sense. It ignored the winner-take-all states where running against multiple alternatives actually gave Romney an advantage, and it ignored the likelihood that if Romney limped into the convention just a few votes short, the Repub superdelegates would almost certainly put him over the top, even on the first ballot. But if you didn’t think about it too hard, it almost kinda made sense and in some of the remaining states it almost sorta might work.

But if you were trying to believe in that meshugana theory, you would want to assume that in today’s Illinois primary, where Gingrich is not a serious contender and where polls suggest that Santorum is on the ropes, you would expect Santorum’s “tag team” partner to be encouraging anyone within the sound of his voice to support Santorum.

Article continues after advertisement

Instead, Gingrich has put up a post, in his own name, on the highly-trafficked RedState blog, in which he brings up a series of votes from Santorum’s Senate days that call Santorum’s conservative bona fides into question (“voted to raise the debt ceiling five times,” “voted with Democrats and Big Labor to defeat the National Right to Work Act,” “bragged about his support for a higher Minimum Wage,” etc., etc).

I’m reminded of David Brooks’ recent excellent metaphor for the Repub race as “a series of heresy trials in which each of the candidates accuse the others of tribal impurity.”

Amusingly, Gingrich, who is inclined to credit himself for everything creditworthy that happened in the country during his years as speaker, also attributes everything bad that happened after he left to the work of what he terms the “Rick Santorum Republicans.” As chair of the Senate Republican Conference in those years, Santorum was roughly the third-ranking member of the party leadership in the last years before he was defeated for reelection in 2006, but on Planet Gingrich, it was the “Rick Santorum Republicans” who bear responsibility for all bad things that happened (even though the big ones were signed into law by George W. Bush).

I offer no new theory as to what Gingrich is up to but am reminded of Andy Borowitz hilarious parody of Gingrich’s remarks on the night of SuperTuesday when he lost every contest except his own state of Georgia but vowed again to stay in the race. Borowitz has Gingrich saying: “This race isn’t about winning or losing. This is about me standing in front of a microphone and listening to the sound of my own voice for as long as possible.”