Newt Gingrich’s opponents have figured out that the weakest part of the Gingrich campaign is the deeply flawed candidate. As one conservative blogger put it, “There are the two divorces under very unfortunate circumstances. The numerous ethics violations in four short years as Speaker. The personal pettiness. The hypocrisy. The lobbying.”
Rep. Ron Paul (R-Tex.) is out with another withering attack ad:
Wow. Paul is not alone. Other candidates are also focusing on one of the worst Gingrich traits: his propensity to dissemble in order to hide his own missteps.
In the debate Saturday, Gingrich once again denied he was a mere lobbyist for Freddie Mac. (“I was never a spokesman for any agency, I never did any lobbying for any agency. I offered strategic advice. I was in the private sector. And I was doing things (LAUGHTER) in the private sector.” I would have laughed as well.)
Yesterday I asked the Mitt Romney camp if it thought Gingrich’s comments were credible. Spokeswoman Gail Gitcho responded: “While Washington hasn’t been working for most Americans, it has been working just fine for the last three decades for Speaker Gingrich. The Speaker has ‘Washington’ in every line of his resume. There aren’t too many ‘historians’ who get paid $1.6 million for consulting. This is part of the growing recognition that Newt Gingrich is an unreliable leader.”
This morning on “Fox and Friends,” Romney picked up from where the debate left off. He was asked if Gingrich should give back the Freddie money:
I sure do. He was on a debate saying that politicians who took money from Fannie and Freddie should go to jail, which is outrageous in itself but look, he says he was in the consulting business. That’s very different than the consulting business other people have been in. He was in the business of connecting folks with government. This was a connection with government kind of business. It’s very different than the private sector. . . .
On “Face the Nation,” Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) continued her assault on Gingrich’s lobbying career: “I think there’s very serious concerns about Newt Gingrich as the nominee. And this is starting to get unpacked, because again we know that he has taken over $100 million. His offices are on the Rodeo Drive of Washington called K Street. He’s the king of K Street.”
The multi-front assault suggests his opponents have concluded that Gingrich’s policy zig-zags may not alienate him from the Tea Party as much as his personal conduct and false self-narrative. If he is just another Washington insider, another untrustworthy pol, the reasoning goes, Tea Partyers will recognize that he is what they have been fighting against. In addition, because Gingrich can get testy and will never confess to unseemly behavior except in the vaguest terms, the opportunity to provoke Gingrich in debates and/or force him to appear like an Obama-variety fabulist is real.
Will it work? If Gingrich’s results in the Iowa caucuses are not as impressive as he and the media expect, it will be open season. There is nothing like blood in the water to encourage sharks and their political counterparts.