Florida: Newt’s Paradise Lost

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Coming out of his strong victory in South Carolina, Newt Gingrich had a golden opportunity in the Sunshine State to deal a deathblow to the Romney campaign.  Defeat Romney a/k/a the Weathervane in a large state like Florida, and the main rationale of the Romney campaign, electability, would be shattered.  If Gingrich had won the state he would  haven been the clear frontrunner and Romney would have been wondering whether he would be too old to try again in 2016.  Instead, Romney has won, and appears to have won strongly.  What happened?

1.  Money-I have seen figures indicating that the Weathervane outspent Newt 3-1 to 5-1 in Florida and that type of advertising dominance in an election race will move numbers.  In South Carolina the spending figures were close to parity because Romney assumed that Gingrich was roadkill.  Romney did not make that mistake in Florida.

2.  Negative Campaigning-Romney spent his money almost entirely on negative ads against Gingrich.  People may deplore a negative campaign, but it will usually work in bringing the target down and it certainly did in this contest, especially since Gingrich lacked the resources to respond effectively.

3.  Bob Dole Lives!-The GOP establishment, alarmed at the prospect of a Newt candidacy in the Fall, had every Republican “leader” imaginable endorsing Romney and unloading on Gingrich.  They even dug up Zombie Bob Dole out of his retirement from making erectile dysfunction commercials and had him engaging in some decades old payback for Gingrich accurately dubbing him the tax collector of the Welfare State.  The endorsements ensured a steady drumbeat of positive stories for Romney and negative stories for Newt.

4.  One Trick Pony-Gingrich prospered due to his skill at debate.  He went to the well too often on that in Florida.  Someone in the Romney campaign finally convinced the Weathervane to get badly needed debate coaching.  In the Florida debates his performances ran the gamut from bad to robotic, but that was an improvement from his previous standard which ran the gamut of better than Perry to better than a test pattern.  Additionally the media, Newt’s punching bag, nullified Newt’s advantage with a silenced audience in the first debate and then with an animated Wolf Blitzer who put the rabid into his first name as far as Gingrich was concerned in the second debate.  Additionally, Newt was off his stride and defensive during both of the debates.  Becoming the front runner, even briefly, can make a candidate too cautious and that is what happened to Gingrich

5.  Moon Colonies-Newt has long been a strong advocate of space exploration.  Showing the lack of discipline which has always been his hallmark, he decided to call for moon colonies during his term as President, partially no doubt to pander to the voters who work for space related industries in Florida, but also because he believes it.  On substance I think he is correct.  I think that a moon colony could be established on the moon, especially since a huge amount of frozen water is there, but in these times of budget meltdown it simply was foolish to propose it, and it enhanced Newt’s reputation as having a fondness for flaky, ill-thought out  proposals, as well as causing more than a few voters to laugh at him.

6.  All About Newt-One of the strong points of the Gingrich campaign has been that most Republican primary voters have little love, to say the least, for Romney.   One of the weak points of the Gingrich campaign is that most Republican primary voters also have little love for him.  As long as he could focus attention on Romney, Newt prospered.  In Florida, Romney succeeded in focusing voters on Newt, and Newt’s lead in the polls vanished over night.

7.  Romneycare and Flipflops-Newt badly mishandled his attacks on Romney by talking about Romney’s role at Bain Capitol, Swiss Bank Accounts and Romney investments.  He should have been hammering away at Romneycare and Romney flipflops instead.  In the second debate Santorum was devastating on Romneycare, something Newt should have been doing from the beginning of the campaign.

Is it all over?  Not quite yet, but it is getting close.  Unless Romney loses a few of the primaries and caucuses in February, slowing his momentum, he will probably put this race away on Super Tuesday, March 6.  For now, there is only one debate in February.  Gingrich has come back from the political dead in this race twice thus far.  We will see in February if he can do it again, or if Santorum can suddenly gather steam.

More to explorer

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As faithful readers of this blog know, I was a very reluctant, and late, supporter of Donald Trump in 2016.  I grudgingly


  1. “As long as you have it, you better pay for it.”

    As we are learning to our sorrow Art, welfare states are insatiable in their demands for ever increasing taxes. There is no paying for a welfare state, there is merely inevitable bankruptcy at the end of the welfare state.

  2. He should have been hammering away at Romneycare and Romney flipflops instead. In the second debate Santorum was devastating on Romneycare…”

    That line of attack wasn’t open to Gingrich. It had been closed off by Gingrich’s own flip flop on an individual national mandate, which is the part of the Obamacare that is easiest for most primary voters to understand. When Gingrich raised it in an earlier debate, Romney simply pointed out that the idea of the mandate came from the Heritage Foundation and Newt Gingrich. If Romney has wrested the ‘weathervane’ title from Gingrich, it must have been by a hair.

    Plus, Gingrich hasn’t been good at attacking anyone other than debate moderators. I think you’re a trifle unfair to Wolf above; Wolf simply refused to be cowed when Gingrich tried to suggest that his own comments from earlier in the day were an inappropriate topic for the debate. Bluster only works as long as no one calls bs.

  3. I disagree John Henry. There is a great deal of difference between Gingrich having made a statement about an individual mandate and Romney basically acting as a precursor for Obamacare. That is a gaping weakness in Romney and hacking at Romney through it would have been worth any jabs from Romney in return.

    In regard to Wolf Blitzer I think he clearly was gunning for Newt. Gingrich’s mistake was not to state the obvious: that Romney is an out of touch rich guy attempting to buy his way to the White House and that Blitzer is a shill for CNN, a network that has no love for conservative Republicans. Instead, Gingrich pulled his punches and lost the initiative.

    As to Romney’s weathervane title, Gingrich doesn’t come close to matching Romney’s flip flops on a whole series of issues. A debate between the various Mitt Romneys that have been in the public square since 1994 when he attempted to run to the left of Ted Kennedy on social issues would be amusing if not edifying.

  4. Well call me idealistic but as a Star Trek fanatic I love the idea of a moon colony!

    I guess its “undisciplined” of Newt to say, but it is inspiring to think about that sort of accomplishment.

  5. Newt Gingrich has much to commend him, including his blasts at Mr. Obama’s decision to mandate that health insurance plans at Catholic hospitals, colleges, and charities cover birth control, I think without co-payments and also, I believe, though usually unmentioned, abortifacients and sterilization. The president had compromise positions, but chose to ignore them as well as Catholic opposition to this decision. But unfortunately, Mr. Gingrich’s lack of discipline in speech and policy would make his presidency perilous. Recall what he said about Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget, which managed to insult all the House Republicans who voted for it.

    He has also called Mitt Romney a “Massachusetts liberal.” I live in Massachusetts and know how difficult it can be for any conservative in the state, especially a Catholic conservative. I contend with Massachusetts liberals nearly daily. I know Massachusetts liberals. I know what they believe and do. Think Elizabeth Warren, Barney Frank, John Kerry, and James McGovern. They are Massachusetts liberals.

    Mitt Romney is no Massachusetts liberal.

  6. Too many voters have Romneycare fatigue. They’ve heard the complaints against so often that its offensiveness is wearing thin. So what are you left with? Flip flops and private sector experience. You can’t touch private sector experience because that’s the GOP third rail. The flip flops have been covered, and the average voter has heard it so many times applied to different politicians that they now think “They all flip flop.” So, Weathervane Romney becomes Teflon Mitt.

  7. welfare states are insatiable in their demands for ever increasing taxes. There is no paying for a welfare state, there is merely inevitable bankruptcy at the end of the welfare state.

    In the period running from 1969 to 2008, the ratio of public expenditure to domestic product fluctuated between 27.96% to 33.88%. The lower bound was during the fiscal year concluding in 1973 and the upper bound was in that concluding in 1992.

  8. Greece reportedly will agree to pay .3 euro on each euro it owes. It’s better than zero. Next up is Portugal.

    We will soon see how that works.

    As Maine goes so goes the nation.

    Now, Maine has more peoples getting money from guvinamenent than paying taxes.

    I wead a weport that said CA guvmint may run out of money in March.

    I know!

    Let’s tax the rich!

    Let’s force the Catholic Church to pay for abortions and gender adjustment surgeries!!!

  9. If the Republican party seriously thinks that Romney has a chance against Obama, then they are delusional. This is McCain 2008 all over again. You can’t send up a Default candidate who nobody really likes and expect strong voter turnout. This time not even the base will mobilize. Whether you like Gingrich or not, he has consistently shown that he has ideas and the willingness to take chances as a leader. I will not vote for Romney. To vote for Romney is to assent to all that he believes and legitimize his false faith and false ideals. If the Republican party wants to position itself as a liberal big Government – big Business party, fine. They will get what they want with Obama. Count me out.

  10. I contend with Massachusetts liberals nearly daily. I know Massachusetts liberals. I know what they believe and do. Think Elizabeth Warren, Barney Frank, John Kerry, and James McGovern. They are Massachusetts liberals.

    Mitt Romney is no Massachusetts liberal.

    Mitt Romney: not as bad Barney Frank and John Kerry.

    I don’t know about you, but I’m ready to storm the beaches for the man now.

  11. I think the moon colony proposal is the smartest thing since sliced bread – if we send all the politicians to live there.

  12. If the Republican party seriously thinks that Romney has a chance against Obama, then they are delusional. This is McCain 2008 all over again. You can’t send up a Default candidate who nobody really likes and expect strong voter turnout.

    Once more with feeling.

    1. You have three salient economic metrics: the growth rate in domestic product per capita, the unemployment rate, and the rate of inflation.

    a. The last of these was consequential during the periods running from 1945 to 1952 and from 1966 to 1982, but not otherwise.

    b. The mean unemployment rate during this administration has been the highest of any since 1941. It was higher during Mr. Roosevelt’s first and second term, but during his Administration unemployment rates were on a downward trajectory and the social injuries associated with unemployment were treated with novel meliorist schemes.

    c. The growth rates experienced during the current Administration have been ever so slightly higher than was the case during the first Bush Administration, and lower than those in every other administration. The point at which economic dynamism reaches its peak varies from one business cycle to another, but it is usually within three or four quarters of the cycle’s commencement. Mr. Bush faced the electorate with a relatively fresh business cycle (ongoing for six quarters) which reached its peaks years after he left office. The current President will be facing the electorate with a stale business cycle (14 quarters in), and with a dismal future outlook due to massive public sector borrowing and the crisis in Europe.

    2. You have sixty years of public opinion polling to gauge the general assessment of the incumbent as compared with his predecessors. You have a great deal of interstitial flux in this metric, but the most common pattern is for the assessment of the President to take on a downward trajectory through the life of an administration. Some administrations have alternating biennial cycles of advance and retreat in public approval. Messrs. Eisenhower and Kennedy retained agreeable ratings with little temporal trend throughout their years in office. The current President appears to be one of the most common type, which is to say we can surmise that if it were getting better for him we’d have seen it over the last year. We have not.

    3. Mr. McCain was and is a Republican pol with a set of policy preferences that are common-and-garden within that set. He was facing (due to the ill regard for the incumbent administration and the banking crisis) a set of very challenging circumstances. Any deficiencies he had as a candidate were not an important consideration in the menu of reasons the Republicans lost the election.

    4. You think Mr. Romney’s opportunism renders him an unsalable candidate? A cursory examination of the political careers of Richard Nixon, Jimmy Carter, and George Bush the Elder would tend to discredit that thesis.

  13. 1. Obama GDP growth rates are suffuecuent to minimally reduce new unemployment claims. They are far below growth needed to return America to “full employment.”

    2. Over the recent nine (Obama) quarters, growth has been far below the four decade average. It took twice as long after the recession ended to recover to the pre-recession level GDP. The current (Obama) recovery real private sector GDP growth averaged 2.6% (2011 it was 1.7%) versus 1974-75 (Ford) 3.8% and 1981-82 (Reagan) 4.7%.

    3. The Keystone pipeline denial is the most striking example of the regime’s hostility to economic growth and job creation.

    4. A recent Gallup Poll sows Obama’s job approval in the third full year at 44%. That’s down from 47% in his second year. That’s down from 57% in his first year. That’s also down from the 69% approval he enjoyed on Inauguration Day.

    5. That 44% rating is worse than Gerald Ford’s and Bush the Elder’s going into their failed re-elections.

    6. Silver lining: Jummeh Carter’s approval rating was worse.

  14. “Unless Romney loses a few of the primaries and caucuses in February, slowing his momentum, he will probably put this race away on Super Tuesday, March 6.”

    I’m not sure about either side of this. First of all, no one takes caucuses seriously, so I don’t think that a Romney loss would upset his flow. There are only three primaries in February: Missouri, Arizona, and the state of Romney’s birth. I think he’ll sweep those.

    But Super Tuesday is potentially the roughest day of his campaign. Virginia, Tennessee, and Newt’s home state. Romney hasn’t proven that he can win in the South (let’s face it, Florida isn’t a Southern state exactly). If Mitt can have a decisive victory on Super Tuesday, he’s set, but if he shows weakness on March 6th, the next month will be a gauntlet (Mississippi, Alabama, Texas, etc.).

  15. Caucuses supply delegates Pinky, and that is the coin of any presidential nomination contest.

    In regard to Virginia, Newt and Santorum aren’t on the ballot. Georgia is a good state for Newt. Newt’s main concern is money drying up for his campaign. Unless he starts winning soon, goodby cash.

    The most interesting race this month is Missouri on the 7th. It is the best state for Santorum. The last poll I read showed him in first place with a stunning 45%. (Gingrich is not on the ballot.) If he can pull that off next Tuesday that could startle some voters who like neither Romney nor Gingrich into backing Santorum, and draw fallen away Gingrich backers. The primary is non-binding, but such a blow out victory would garner lots of attention anyway, and underline Romney’s weakness when the conservative vote is not divided.


  16. Regarding Gingrich’s longstanding support for a national individual mandate, I believe the old line about being entitled to your own opinion but not your own facts is applicable. If you go here, you can hear Newt in May of 2009 talking about how an individual mandate had to be the key to any health care reform bill.

  17. He was calling for a catastrophic health insurance mandate for those making over 75,000 BA, a bad idea but hardly Romneycare. Additionally Gingrich now rejects the idea of an individual mandate, while Romney still defends Romneycare. How Romney would be able to call for the repeal of Obamacare while defending Romneycare, would tax the political skills of a far better politician than the Weathervane.

  18. Gingrich now rejects the idea of an individual mandate, while Romney still defends Romneycare.

    The irony here is that, after criticizing Romney for being Mr. Weathervane, you turn around and criticize him for not changing his position on an unpopular issue. Romney has never favored a national mandate, nor has he repudiated what he did in Massachusetts. Gingrich, on the other hand, favored a national mandate for nearly 20 years, supported Romneycare, and continued to support mandates up until he started running for president, at which point he suddenly realized that the whole idea was unconstitutional and would never work.

  19. BA the Weathervane has made a career out of flip flopping. He has been on both sides of abortion, gun control, embryonic stem cell research, prayers in school, abstinence based sex education, the minimum wage, the types of judges that should be appointed to the bench, the abolition of the Department of Education, and the list could go at considerable length. When it comes to flip flopping the Weathervane is the grand champion.

    In regard to Obamacare, the White House consulted with former Romney aides who crafted Romneycare when designing Obamacare:


    The idea that Romney’s continued embrace of Romneycare is not a disaster in regard to the election this fall when a majority of the voters are opposed to Obamacare is precisely the type of politically tone deaf nonsence I expect from camp Weathervane.

  20. Gingrich did not completely support Romneycare. He praised parts of it, and indeed agreed with the principle of an individual mandate. But he did not fully endorse the legislation.

    Of course there is a candidate that never endorsed the individual mandate named Rick Santorum. Maybe we should be focusing on him instead of these two duds.

  21. Newt once supported the idea of a mandate and has since renounced it.
    Romney implemented the mandate and has embraced it.

    An idea can be dangerous, but bad legislation is far more destructive.

    Newt also fought Hillarycare and became its brick wall when he and the GOP won the house in 1994.

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