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Right Turn
Posted at 09:00 AM ET, 01/20/2012

Santorum indicts Gingrich

Newt Gingrich’s media-bashing moment in last night’s debate was momentarily satisfying for conservative haters of the MSM, but it could not insulate him from the central problem with his candidacy: He lacks the character and maturity to be the nominee, not to mention the presidency. The only surprise was that the point came in prosecutorial tones from Rick Santorum, who until last night had lacked command of the debate stage.

Santorum explained Gingrich’s egomania and instability:

Grandiosity has never been a problem with Newt Gingrich. He — he handles it very, very well.
(APPLAUSE)
And that’s really one of the issues here, folks. I mean, a month ago, he was saying that, “Oh, I’m — it’s inevitable that I’m going to win the election. And it’s I’m destined to do it.”
I don’t want a nominee that I have to worry about going out and looking at the paper the next day and figuring out what is he -- worrying about what he’s going to say next.
And that’s -- that’s what I think we’re seeing here.
(APPLAUSE)
For him to suggest that — that someone who was tied for first and eventually won the Iowa caucuses and finished with twice as many votes as he did and finished ahead of him in New Hampshire. . . .
These are — there are not — there are not cogent thoughts. I mean, and — and let’s just be honest.
(LAUGHTER)
(APPLAUSE)
I mean, Newt’s — Newt’s a friend. I love him. But at times, you’ve just got, you know, sort of that, you know, worrisome moment that something’s going to pop. And we can’t afford that in a nominee.
We need someone — I’m not the most flamboyant, and I don’t get the biggest applause lines here. But I’m steady. I’m solid. I’m not going to go out and do things that you’re going to worry about. I’m going to be out there. I’m going to make Barack Obama the issue in this campaign.

He wasn’t done. He then leveled the most serious indictment yet of Gingrich’s tenure as speaker:

I will give Newt Gingrich his due on grandiose ideas and grandiose projects. I will not give him his — his — his due on executing those projects, which is exactly what the president of the United States is supposed to do.
Four years into his speakership, he was thrown out by the conservatives. It was a coup against him in three. I served with him. I was there. I knew what the problems were going on in the House of Representatives when Newt Gingrich was leading this — leading there. It was an idea a minute, no discipline, no ability to be able to pull things together.

In a nutshell, that is the case that both Santorum and Mitt Romney are making. Gingrich, they say, is a walking time bomb whose personal flaws and character deficiencies will be the ruin of the party. It’s a hard argument to make to someone’s face, but Santorum went there and did it effectively.

Gingrich comes alive when he’s given a media foil. But when forced to defend himself and his record against a skilled debater he falters. That’s happening now in the primary. And despite his grandiose conception of a series of Lincoln-Douglas debates, it would surely be the case in the general election. Gingrich is asking us to pick the best debater, but voters understand that they are choosing a nominee and a potential president. If they believe Santorum, that person can’t be Gingrich.

By  |  09:00 AM ET, 01/20/2012

Categories:  2012 campaign

 
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