Newt, Mitt and the incumbent Democrat
I’m not much of a Paul Begala fan, but in fact, like a blind pig will eventually find an acorn, he’s gotten this one right. Why is Newt Gingrich in ascension? Well because the ABR crowd’s latest candidate, Herman Cain, imploded.
ABR you ask? Anybody But Romney.
More likely the Gingrich surge is just the latest Republican tulip craze (count the pedantic historical references I use in Newt’s honor!)—with Newt simply serving as the latest vessel for the ABR movement: Anybody But Romney.
Mitt Romney has been running for president nonstop for about five years now. And he has gone from 25 percent in the 2007 Iowa caucuses to 18 percent in the latest Bloomberg poll of Iowa voters. He’s the Harold Stassen of 2012. Face it, Mitt: they’re just not that into you.
Republicans, apparently, will date anyone before they’ll marry Mitt. Remember their brief fling with Donald Trump? Then, after he decided not to throw his hair into the ring, they fell for Michele Bachmann, the Zoya Kosmodemyanskaya of the far right. Then it was Rick Perry—the guy who claims he jogs with a loaded gun (without a safety) tucked into his shorts. And now that they’ve tired of Herman Cain’s, umm, hands-on style of leadership, it’s Newt’s turn.
Begala’s point is fairly obvious but true.
However, there’s a very important point to be made despite that. A recent poll found that Obama, Romney and Gingrich are statistically tied in the swing states. Romney, as Begala and others point out, isn’t even the consensus GOP pick. In fact, the GOP voters are willing to look at everyone else to see if any of them provide a suitable replacement for Romney. And even the candidate they’d prefer to replace Romney with is tied with the incumbent Democrat.
That isn’t good news for Democrats if you think about it. If the guy that is the last pick of the GOP faithful (or so it seems) is able to tie the incumbent president in swing states, how bad will it be when the GOP (and supporters) finally pick one candidate and get behind him (even Romney)?
Begala thinks Gingrich would be a “gift” to Democrats. He’s right to an extent. But the Republican’s gift is sitting in the White House right now. He actually has to run on a record this time, and it’s not an enviable record. While it is true that Republicans are still trying to find their man (or woman), there are indicators such as that poll that say that regardless of who they choose, even if it is a baggage laden Gingrich, Obama has big trouble.
So far those like Paul Begala choose to ignore that point. Their intent now is to attack the GOP candidates personally as they’ve always done in the past (remember Begala comes from the Clinton campaign where the politics of personal destruction were raised to an art form) and hope they manage to demonize the Republican pick enough to let their guy slip by. It’s about the only hope they have.
Gingrich will provide a target rich opportunity there. But, given the incumbent, will it be enough? I’m not so sure. I’m certainly not convinced that Gingrich will prevail, but I do think that Democrats right now are either in denial or simply not aware of how deep the electoral trouble is that their candidate is in. Whoever the GOP chooses, he will not play John McCain to this election year’s Barack Obama.
While everything is mostly focused on the GOP and their interminable debate cycle, at some point, Obama has to step out of the shadows and actually begin his run. That’s when the real games will begin, and I’m not sure the Democrats yet understand that much of the fire the GOP candidates are now receiving will shift to Obama when that happens.
It ain’t gonna be pretty when it does.