Newt Gingrich, moonstruck in Florida


Loony business. (Chip Somodevilla/GETTY IMAGES)

Visit the moon? No need. Newt’s speech was from outer space.

He began by noting that “Everybody here has been so positive.” What Florida has he been visiting? Surely not the one where his robo-calls insisted that Mitt Romney had denied Kosher meals to Holocaust survivors.

Apparently bereft of a teleprompter, Newt gave us an unvarnished glimpse into his mind.

This was a trip to Fantasy Island. Newt organized a magical dream voyage into the realm where he is president, envisioning his first day.

His first day looks a lot like 1994. In fact, almost everything in Newt Gingrich’s mind looks a lot like 1994. His mind is like a historic home whose furniture has been preserved, intact, to reflect the priorities of a bygone era.

He will bring back the Contract with America. He will adamantly not sing. “You cannot sing your way past the disaster of the presidency!” he explained, in what was either an attack on President Obama or on Romney, who’s also been singing lately. He notes that he doesn’t have his teleprompter — “I have to wing this because of staff failure!”

It is reassuring to know that, even if his staff fail him, President Gingrich will be able to deliver a meandering and self-indulgent speech.

“It was stated,” Gingrich said, “at a historic moment in 1863 in dedicating our first national military cemetery. . .of the people, by the people, for the people.” Most people would refer to this as the Gettysburg Address, but as usual, Newt cleverly disguised a fact that most Americans with an 8th-grade civics education would know as some piece of Gingrich-only arcana. What’s a PhD for?

His is “a people’s campaign. Not a Republican campaign. Not an establishment campaign. Not a Wall-Street-funded campaign.” Perhaps Newt is tactfully alluding to the fact that after Florida, it may prove difficult for him to attract funds.

“If you’re comfortable with the way America’s decaying,” Newt said, you don’t need to vote for him. But otherwise: “if you think that’s a terrible thing to give your children and grandchildren . . .

“Newt! Newt! Newt!” the crowd shouted.

“It is now clear that this will be a two-person race between the conservative leader Newt Gingrich and Massachusetts Moderate Mitt Romney.”

“The same people who said I was dead . . . I just want to reassure them tonight. We are going to contest every place, and we are going to win, and we will be in Tampa as the nominee in August.”

The night in Florida was Mitt Romney’s. But the dreams were Newt Gingrich’s.

This, Newt reminded watchers, is “the most important election of your lifetime,” if only because Newt Gingrich is involved.

And he’ll be involved for a while longer – 46 states. Well, 45, technically, since he missed the ballot in Virginia. But Lunar Newt’s never been one to let a little thing like reality stand in his way.

Alexandra Petri writes the ComPost blog, offering a lighter take on the news and opinions of the day. She is the author of "A Field Guide to Awkward Silences".

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