I asked Right Turn readers if Newt Gingrich’s views on illegal immigration would help sink him, as Texas Gov. Rick Perry experienced when he tried to tout college tuition aid for children of illegal immigrants. Msterenb, reflecting the view of a number of commentators, wrote: “Yes, Newt shot himself in the foot, like he always does, just when you think he might control himself. The Republican primary voter doesn’t do nuance. 2 million from Freddie and 35 million from health care companies too? He has more baggage than the sky caps at O’Hare Airport. Newt is finished — sooner rather than later.” TheStatistQuo agreed:
This is likely to be Newt’s Achilles’ Heel. Newt is a Big Government Republican. His conservatism is as inconsistent as Romney’s. Romney, however, has never been a quasi-lobbyist and crony-capitialist, unlike Newt. Newt’s foray into immigration may reinvigorate Bachmann’s campaign. Although she has only a whiff of the frontrunner status, she has wounded Pawlenty, Cain and Perry, and she is likely to take aim against Gingrich on immigration. Newt’s eventual fall will not be as precipitous as the inarticulate Perry, but immigration will become too heavy a weight to lug around for the rest of the primary season. Not even a nuanced-filled explanatory spin, a Newt specialty, will save Newt’s hide. If conservatives decide to take a candidate with nuance to spare, they’ll swallow hard and vote for Mitt.
Likewise, DonaldJohnson was emphatic, writing in part:
Newt Gingrich will lose GOP support because of his typically misleading and devious attempt to win contributions from Wall Street Journal and U.S. Chamber Republicans with a grand Gingrich Path to Amnesty that wouldn’t pass, wouldn’t be enforceable and wouldn’t work.
The Gingrich Path to Amnesty is just another “comprehensive immigration reform” that would be full of loopholes, make work for lawyers and distribute pork to Gingrich’s favored few.
Fewer readers jumped to Gingrich’s defense, as Skeptic20 did, who argued that Gingrich actually wants to:
1. Seal the border; stop thousands, even millions of people from walking across the border and taking up residence here in the States. Gingrich has made it clear that this first step is a necessary precondition for any further measures.
2. Require those who want to stay to apply for citizenship, contingent upon meeting certain conditions. Americans are a generous and compassionate people, who I believe can reach an agreement on the severity of these conditions, which comprise the price to be paid for becoming citizens after entering the country illegally.
3. Ship everyone else back home.
Well, unfortunately for Gingrich, he didn’t say that.
As I have written before, I agree with Gingrich on the merits of his moderate stance on immigration, but the responses suggest that among the voters to whom Gingrich is trying to appeal the immigration issue is potent in its own right and has also revived concerns that Gingrich is ideologically flaky.
The criticisms of his infatuation with big government and his lobbying on behalf of unconservative causes are biting enough. But there is also the sense that Gingrich’s ego is his greatest problem. Nana1353 mocks Gingrich’s self-comparison to Winston Churchill: “No [he won't be damaged] because Newt is the reincarnation of Winston Churchill. Never mind [Churchill’s] wife adored him and stayed by his side all his life, and never mind Winston had a keen eye for talent and was able to bring out the best in people while Newt has none of this talent.”
On that point — the danger that Gingrich’s egomania may get the best of him — most Republicans, I think, would agree. Still, it will be fun to watch him try to contain himself and persuade conservatives to disregard all that baggage.