Friday, May 27, 2011

Was the D.C. establishment -- gasp -- wrong about Newt's campaign?

Just a week or so ago, the common wisdom among journalists inside Washington D.C. was that Newt's campaign -- due to the comments about Paul Ryan and the surrounding dust up -- was on life support. Some even suggested he would drop out before July.

Then, the reports of overflow crowds at each and every of his Iowa appearances began to trickle in. As Newt has noted, the only national reporter to actually show up was NPR's Mara Liasson, who said the crowds and enthusiasm was nothing like she was hearing back in D.C. Chuck Todd, NBC's White House Correspondent, tweeted: "As folks prepare Sunday columns writing off Gingrich, riddle this: he's attracting large crowds; Conservative elite-Iowa grassroots split?"

Then, Newt has been in New Hampshire the past two days, talking to about 600 people total, says The Washington Post.

photo: R.C. Hammond

While the actual voters showed no interest in Newt's jewelry purchases, Nia-Malika Henderson passes along the following exchange with a fellow reporter and Newt:
Will your charge account at Tiffany sink your campaign, a Reuters reporter asked.

“I want you all to notice, finally, the citizens having failed to raise the most important question of the day. I was asked about a charge account at Tiffany’s,” he said, standing before a crowd of about 200 people, who didn’t boo but laughed at his sarcasm. “Now, I’m grateful that somebody here finally had the courage to go to one of the hot-button issues that will change America’s future.”
Henderson quotes Newt: “I’ve got to be more careful and make certain that it’s virtually impossible to misunderstand what I’m saying. I’ve got to be less academic and more explicit,” he said at the Conway Diner. “And we’ve got to get faster at responding to stories that are just totally false. We are still a half-step behind doing that. We eventually burn them out, but it takes longer than it should.”

Henderson included an interesting tidbit that I have not seen reported yet: "Over the next week, Gingrich will work on two major speeches to be delivered in June, one on foreign policy and another on the Federal Reserve."

So Newt had a great response in Iowa and New Hampshire (and he will be in South Carolina Friday, where he will discuss the federal power reach in the Boeing case.) National polls (here and here) show Newt still in good position.

With all that, it looks like the D.C. media was wrong about trying to stick a fork in Newt's campaign. Not that surprising when you consider just a few things the media has been wrong about;

It was also wrong about Ronald Reagan being unelectable. And wrong about Reagan's economic policies. (As Reagan himself said: "I could tell our economic policy was working when [the media] stopped calling it Reaganomics.") And Reagan's foreign policy.

The media laughed at Newt when he said the Republicans would gain a majority in the House. They said he would never become Speaker. Then they doubted Newt and the House Republicans would fulfill the Contract with America. Then the media doubted that welfare reform could be passed. And when it was passed, they predicted terrible things for those leaving welfare, not two of every three either going to work or school. The media said it was impossible to balance the budget.

So does it surprise anyone that they were wrong about this?

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