Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Newt and "niche issues"

A recent Washington Post story highlights Newt's focus on what the columnist Philip Rucker calls "niche issues."
So at a private fundraiser last week in Newport Beach, Calif., he devoted much of his speech to the disease.

In the audience, it turned out, were four members of the Alzheimer’s Association’s Orange County chapter.

“This is great,” they later told Gingrich, according to an aide. “You get it!”
Texas U.S. Representative Michael Burgess, who has endorsed Newt for President and who wrote an article with him about the flat tax, said that Newt "probably" understands Alzheimer's better than anyone.

From Rucker:
After Gingrich announced his candidacy in May, his first speech was to a convention of Alzheimer’s advocates. There, he warned that the disease could cost the government some $20 trillion over the next four decades. He told the industry group that Alzheimer’s research is “grotesquely underfunded,” and he pledged to invest more public money in finding a cure.
But as Gingrich sees it, Alzheimer’s, as well as other niche topics such as military families’ concerns and pharmaceutical issues,are priorities for passionate patches of the American electorate. By offering himself as a champion of pet causes, Gingrich believes he can sew together enough narrow constituencies to make a coalition -- an unconventional one, yes, but a coalition nevertheless.
Of course, the implication is that Newt is only now paying attention to those issues in order to gain a political advantage.

Tony Blankley, Newt's Press Secretary when he was Speaker, wrote a column in order to disprove that.

From that article:
To read the article in question, one would think Newt had thought up this little “niche” Alzheimer issue a couple of weeks ago -- just in time for his revived campaign. Well, in fact, I remember Newt talking to me about the coming crisis in Alzheimer’s back in the 1990s. And in 2007, the Alzheimer's Association along with the Congressional Task Force on Alzheimer’s Disease called for the creation of the Alzheimer’s Study Group. Newt was named co-chairman, along with former Democratic Sen. Bob Kerrey.

As to the issues and costs of taking care of our military families, anyone remotely familiar with the projections of the defense budget knows that if we don’t improve the attitude toward and better manage the costs of taking care of our military and veterans and their families, we will risk lower volunteer rates and unsustainable cost increases. Once again, Newt has been advocating shrewdly about this matter at least since the 1990s, when he used to discuss it with me and others. Of course, Newt came from a military family, so he had an unfair advantage in understanding the issue.
Here is the aforementioned speech to the Alzheimer's Association:

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