How Newt Can Keep From Being the Flavor of the Month
by Jen Green and Dave Jeffers
Why is Newt Gingrich surging in the polls? If you would have told us six months ago that Newt would be in second place behind either Herman Cain or Mitt Romney (depending on the poll) with just 48 days until the Iowa Caucuses, we would never have believed you. But here we are, fresh from another GOP debate where Newt was proclaimed the winner and another crop of news polls say he’s still climbing.
Some sources are chalking it up solely to his debate performances. His dry wit and endless knowledge keeps people tuning in—if not just to see him take out a hapless media type (yes, I know, I am one, too).
Some say it’s his intelligence and “elder statesman” appeal. He steadfastly refuses to bash any of the rest of the field, only occasionally “chiding” or “advising” them. Instead, he maintains a very positive tone about the accomplishments of each of his competitors and the whole GOP agenda as a whole.
Instead, Gingrich saves his ire for President Barack Obama, cutting into his policies with a hot, specific, seasoned intellect that leaves the audience dreaming of a Gringrich-Obama debate. All of a sudden, Newt is the one who can beat Obama.
But can it last? Newt’s steady and sure rise is not similar to the other GOP candidates Roman candle ascents to number one. Newt is a familiar commodity; to parrot what Steve said on the show last Friday, Newt is like your Dad’s Buick. It’s not flashy, not sporty, not sexy. But, it’s built to last, and it’ll get you from point A to B.
What makes Newt’s rise different? Well, he’s done it with more substance than personality. Listen, we all know who Newt Gingrich is. To paraphrase Denny Green’s famous press conference line, “He is who we thought he is!” We know he’s got enough personal baggage to check in at the airport. But, maybe that’s why people are giving him another chance—we won’t be surprised by it.
What we have seen recently, is a 21st Century Contract with America that lays out a detailed way to put the courts back in place. He dismantles Obama’s policies in each debate in a few sentences. His campaign speeches are an effortless discussion of our history, past proven and failed policies, and what is to come in the future. Gingrich understands where we’ve been—not just because of his 40+ years in politics—but because of his intense study of the history of our country.
That being said, what does Newt have to do to continue his climb to the top and eventually win the GOP nomination? Three immediate things come to mind:
First, Newt must stay consistent. A lack of consistency is what has hurt Herman Cain. Cain supporters will say that attacks on his integrity are what hurt him, but the polling numbers prove differently. In the first of the nation states like Iowa, Florida, and New Hampshire, voters demand consistency. Cain’s tangled thinking on abortion, TARP, the Federal Reserve, and 2nd Amendments rights show he is speaking from “position” instead of “conviction.”
Newt’s greatest strength is the historian in him. His love and knowledge of country speaks to the hearts of all Americans in general, and specifically to the Tea Party movement. Newt must keep telling America why she was and is great. He needs to detail how the statists are purposefully trying to dismantle all that is good about the United States. Newt must stay on message that his policies are the best and only alternative to Obama’s changing America.
Second, Newt must stay convicted. When Newt speaks, seem to be ringing true with Americans. Voters have taken Newt for granted and have been shopping for the latest “hot model” candidate, subconsciously knowing they could always return to steady ol’ Newt the Buick. Newt says often he believes America is the greatest nation in the history of mankind. He not only believes this, but he also explains this to America in a way everyone can understand and relate. Newt’s ability to teach without the use of a teleprompter is reminding people the effective way to use the bully pulpit.
Third, Newt must stay contemporary. Newt took his most famous political victory, his Contract with America, and morphed into his 21st Century Contract with America, granted still a work in progress. But the brilliance in this contract is that Newt is involving the American people in developing the four phases of this pact. Through this, Newt is working to “restore the bonds of trust between the American people and their elected representatives.”
What Do Iowa Voters Think?
That’s our opinion, but what about the all-important caucus goers? We asked several Iowa voters what they thought Gingrich must do to keep from being the “flavor of the month.”
“A rise in poll numbers demands attention and inspection. Iowans should examine his record, indiscretions, new positions and weigh his credibility. With Newt Gingrich it isn’t a matter of his intelligence….it is a matter of his trustworthiness. If Newt Gingrich wants to assuage caucus-goers, he needs to be found trustworthy. He positions himself as a man of substance, however, that means very little if he is not trustworthy. In Iowa, where voters removed three rogue Supreme Court judges, Newt Gingrich needs to continue the call to “[R]estore the proper role of the judicial branch by using the clearly delineated powers available to the president and Congress to correct, limit, or replace judges who violate the Constitution.” (NG Contract Number 9) –Kim
“Newt Gingrich needs to continue with his undaunted performances at the debates and in public events. It is hard to deny he is a man with a plan and seems to have the knowledge, fortitude and ability to bring it to fruition. He needs to continue his visits around Iowa and other crucial states, meeting with the local people as well as other larger venues. Show us you’re organized with a committed staff who can get things rolling and raise money for his campaign. Avoid any scandals. In truth, Newt’s divorces will be a major hiccup for a sound conservative. I’m not sure how you would resolve that. It jeopardizes his creditability on issues of marriage. He will need to find a way to cultivate reassurance in his personal convictions on a public level. Find a way to bridge the gap between personal weaknesses and public confidence. And finally, he really needs to distinguish himself from the typical “entrenched” politician. He has political clout that could be a blessing or a curse. He needs to come out from the establishment and be distinct and rebuild his following.”–Lesley
“Gingrich needs to continue to take on Obama. At some point, too, he cannot be afraid to take on Romney. Continue not to let the media dictate what is important to talk about. Apologizing for stupid things like sitting on that couch with Nancy Pelosi is a good move—he might want to reiterate it a couple more times! He needs to continue to hammer on the way to change our judicial system back to the way our founders designed them to be. He might want to start now developing a plan to address his marriages by looking back at what Obama did to his divorced opponents when running for senate. But most importantly, please stop acting like every politician is your buddy. We want someone who wants to have very few buddies in DC because come 2012 we want those buddies to be GONE.” –Cecil
Newt has a lot of baggage, all of which he has and will have to continue addressing to Republican voters and if he wins the nomination, the entire voting populace. The people have need to know if he will stop being swayed by the GOP establishment in backing liberal candidates and causes. If voters think they can trust him–or that he’s worth the risk–he’ll be more than just a flavor of the month.