Saturday, March 26, 2011

Politico on how a Gingrich campaign would look

In a mostly even-handed and thorough article, Jeanne Cummings of Politico detailed the strengths, challenges, and strategies of a Gingrich for President campaign.

The campaign's thoughts on the early states:
But if conservative voters are willing to cut him a break on his three marriages, the Gingrich team believes he has a shot at winning or doing well in Iowa.

With that momentum, the former speaker would emphasize his fiscal conservative credentials in New Hampshire. Gingrich believes he’ll have an advantage because he’s the only candidate who can say he balanced the federal budget. The others can only talk about it.

Gingrich’s strategists concede that Romney would be a formidable opponent in New Hampshire, a state the former Massachusetts governor has never stopped courting since his 2008 bid.

In addition, the former speaker will face an influential, behind-the-scenes adversary in New Hampshire: former White House Chief of Staff John Sununu, who served under President George H. W. Bush. Many Bush loyalists blame Gingrich for leading an intra-party revolt over tax increases that contributed to the president’s re-election defeat in 1992.
(The fact that "Bush loyalists" still harbor bad feelings toward Newt nearly twenty years later is telling. Bush sunk his re-election chances by hiking taxes, and to blame Newt and other Republicans for opposing the wrong-headed strategy -- instead of the strategy itself -- is a perfect example of shuffling the blame.)

Cummings continues:
Still, the speaker’s advisers hope he can make a strong showing, if not a win. If all goes according to plan, Gingrich would head to friendlier turf in South Carolina, where he could face a key and – they hope — a crucial showdown with Barbour.
Cummings believes that the campaign's headquarters would be in Virginia -- which I have not seen anywhere else. Everyone else has reported it would be in Georgia -- where the campaign is "planning a major presence," writes Cummings.

Whether Cummings is speculating or has inside information that no one else has is not known.

Regardless, she continues:
So, Gingrich enters the race without the traditional home-state anchor that most presidential candidates use as a platform to launch and define their candidacies.

The speaker’s advisers are betting that geography is less important in the Internet age. They also are focused on coalition politics by assiduously courting tea party activists, as well as evangelicals.

Palin and Huckabee are clearly the tea party favorites, according to polls. But if both of them sit out the race, which seems increasingly likely, Gingrich is positioning himself to take their place.

During the 2010 midterms, he made appearances for tea party candidates – including Sharron Angle in Nevada, an early primary state. He’s become a regular at tea party rallies, including a recent one in South Carolina.

In addition, American Solutions, a Gingrich-founded conservative think-tank, last month organized a letter supporting Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, another tea party ally, signed by 86 local and national tea party activists. American Solutions also has been holding regular conversations with more than 300 tea party leaders throughout the country.
I beg to differ that Huckabee is a "tea party favorite," but the point stands: that without the former Arkansas Governor and Sarah Palin, Newt is helped.

The extensive outreach to tea party activists by Newt is something I have written about before.

Cummings writes that Newt's ability to be the only candidate who can say that he has actually balanced the federal budget before -- and not just talk about it -- is key to the courting of the Tea Party.

She then moves onto the issue of raising money, and as her colleagues at Politico did recently, skews the truth when it comes to who gave money to American Solutions. She makes it appear that all the money came from a few millionaires -- when in fact, as I have written before, citing the Washington Post, Newt had 300,000 donors give under $200.

Cummings then, however, cites some advantages that Newt will have over his competitors:
For instance, during his political hiatus, Gingrich signed fund-raising appeals for the Republican Governors Association, National Rifle Association, Republican National Committee, and other organizations. In exchange for his autograph, he received the names and addresses of everyone who sent in a check in response to his appeal. He still has those lists.

Through Facebook, he’s collected hundreds of thousands of followers and his Twitter account has more than a million. His private consulting firm, which manages his book sales, also has stored more than a million names of potential donors.

So, while Gingrich could use his core group of backers to build a big donor base, he also starts the exploratory phase of his candidacy with a small-donor list that stretches into the millions.
Building a massive grassroots operation is the only way to beat President Obama, and Newt has a significant leg up on the other Republican nominees when it comes to names and contact information.

More urgently, Newt, like every other candidate, will not be able to write himself a $50 million check as Mitt Romney could do if needed. He will need to have a wide base of financial support to supplant that.

Of his ability to stay on message, which I believe may be his biggest obstacle to the nomination, and ultimately the White House, Cummings writes:
However, those who have covered Gingrich for a long time know of another, more disciplined side to the speaker. He was an early convert to the notion that repetition is vital to breaking through with voters.

In 1993, when campaigning for House members, the former speaker delivered the same address, multiple times a day, for months, without significant or headline-grabbing variations.

The 67-year-old also has shown no signs of slowing down, flying coast-to-coast in a single day to make appearances only to get up and do it again the next day.
If Newt stays on message -- talking about jobs, energy, reducing the size and scope of government, civil society, and foreign policy -- and can build a large base of support online and on the ground, there is not a candidate who can match him in the GOP. And unless the economy improves against all forecasts, that would be enough to elect him the 45th President of the United States.

Friday, March 25, 2011

More news on Gingrich's executive order proposals: "Maybe as many as 150 to 200 of them" on first day of Presidency

Politico reports of Newt's speech at the Pastors' Policy Briefing in Iowa Friday:
The former House Speaker said that after the inaugural address, there's a break before the traditional lunch — an opportunity for a newly-elected president to get right to work.

“Walk into a room, have all the documents already prepared, already on the Internet, already reviewed by the American people, already written by people who were in the Bush and Reagan White Houses, so they’re all technically correct,” he told the audience. “And just sign as fast as you can.”

Gingrich called for abolishing the Ninth Circuit Court, which he sees as part of an activist judiciary, abolishing all “czars” created by the Obama administration and ensuring no American money pays for abortion (the Constitution specifically gives Congress the power to "ordain and establish" lower courts).

“This is not hyperbole,” he said.
Three weeks ago Newt included in his executive order proposals allowing Israel to choose the site at which the United States would put its' embassy. (Currently, Israel is the only country we do not allow to choose.)

Tim Pawlenty had courted Dawson and Whetsell, both part of Newt's team now, to be in his campaign

From Politico in August 2010:
According to multiple South Carolina GOP sources, Pawlenty senior adviser Terry Nelson met recently with four of the state’s most influential consultants: Warren Tompkins, Richard Quinn, Walter Whetsell and former state GOP chairman Katon Dawson.
Tompkins is yet to sign on with any Presidential candidate, while Quinn is with former Utah Governor and U.S. Ambassador to China Jon Huntsman.

Video from Newt's Wake County (North Carolina) GOP speech

Newt will be spending Friday and Saturday in Iowa

Newt will hold two public events today in Iowa.

The first event is the Pastors' Policy Briefing in West Des Moines, to be followed by screening his documentary Rediscovering God in America in Des Moines.

On Saturday, also in Des Moines, Gingrich will speak to Congressman Steve King's "Conservative Principles Conference."

Newt interviewed by Greta Van Susteren (video)

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Former South Carolina GOP Chairman Katon Dawson will be Newt's "top adviser" in the important early state. (Update: Newt also has a former Fred Thompson SC consultant on board.)

National Journal:
If former House Speaker Newt Gingrich does run for president, former South Carolina GOP Chairman Katon Dawson will likely be the former House Speaker's chief strategist in the state.

"If he runs, I'll be with him," Dawson told Hotline On Call. "I'm trying to encourage him to."

Gingrich also echoed the one-time candidate for RNC chair's praises, saying there was "no question" he would be his top adviser in the crucial early state.

"I think, frankly, having Katon Dawson's help is an enormous asset," Gingrich said of his South Carolina chances.


"I think he fits pretty well with South Carolina ideologically," said Dawson. "Me and a team are going to work for someone we think can really change America."

Gingrich said he'll make a definitive announcement on whether he's forming an exploratory committee within the next four to five weeks, but that he's encouraged by the feedback he's received at his "Newt Explore" site he launched earlier this month and the reception he's continuing to get across the country.

Another hint he's running? At the end of his speech this afternoon to the Greenville County Republican Women's Club, he was presented a tie with the state's famous Palmetto tree emblem.

"You can expect to see me back wearing this a number of times," Gingrich joked.
Update: According to Process Story, Newt also has Walter Whetsell, who served as Fred Thompson's South Carolina consultant in 2008.

Jim DeMint will not run for President; South Carolina wide open.

With the news that conservative Senator Jim DeMint will not run for the Republican nomination -- which was never a great possibility -- it means that South Carolina will be a competitive primary. (Had DeMint entered the race, no other candidate would have challenged him in his home state.)

Mike Huckabee won the state in 2008, and is still strong in the state as well as in other Southern states. However, he seems to be leaning toward staying out of the race. As does Sarah Palin, who polls in third place in the Palmetto State without DeMint.

A February Public Policy Polling survey of South Carolina GOP voters showed:
Huckabee 26%
Romney 20%
Palin 18%
Gingrich 13%
Those numbers are very close to PPP's national numbers, and if South Carolina is the same as the national electorate, then Newt would be the biggest beneficiary of Huckabee and Palin staying out of the race. Nationally, Newt and Romney were tied when the two former Governors were not included. It seems very likely that Newt would be in a very similar situation, if not even better, in South Carolina.

PPP asked what Newt's path to the nomination would be a couple of weeks back. It would seem that without Huckabee and Palin, he would perhaps be the frontrunner in Iowa and South Carolina as of this moment. And if he could win those two states -- with Romney likely winning New Hampshire by a big margin -- he would have the early momentum, and all that goes along with that, including more money and volunteers.

Newt to New Hampshire Union Leader editorial board: Final decision "four to five weeks" away

Gingrich also discussed his reputation as the best ideas man in the Republican Party and perhaps in either party:
While often "attacked for a lot of other things," he said, "if you go out around the country and ask, 'Who do you think will generate the largest number of solutions to our problems?' I think there is a pretty general consensus that I have a reasonable likelihood of being that person.''
Poking fun at President Obama's NCAA brackets, he declared:
"I want to confess up front," said Gingrich, "Obama knows vastly more about basketball than I do. I know more about job creation, energy, national security, controlling the border, balancing the budget and controlling spending, and you decide which characteristic is more important in a President."
He also reiterated an "all-the-above" energy plan, including drilling for oil and nuclear power.

Roundup of Newt News: Repealing Obamacare this year, New CNN Poll, New Hampshire visits, endorsement from Sonny Perdue

-- In this week's newsletter, Newt laid out his strategy to repeal Obamacare this year:
Republicans should attach the full repeal of ObamaCare to the debt ceiling increase bill and pass it immediately.. While passing it, they should make clear that they would be willing to pass a clean debt ceiling increase if the White House and Senate Democrats agree to defund the implementation of ObamaCare through 2012 as part of a package of real spending reductions.

The debt ceiling does not become a crisis until June or July.

If the House passes the bill with an attachment to repeal ObamaCare as early as possible, there will be several months to marshal grassroots pressure on the 18 Democratic Senators running for reelection in 2012.

If President Obama is still determined to be unserious about bringing spending under control, he will be forced to decide whether he is willing to risk a financial crisis by defending a program that a majority of the American people wants to repeal.

The American people should not be forced to accept an increase in the debt ceiling without significant reductions in the out-of-control spending in Washington.
-- The latest GOP primary poll from CNN shows Newt in third place.
With Donald Trump included:
Mike Huckabee 19%
Mitt Romney 18%
Newt Gingrich 14%
Sarah Palin 12%
Trump 10%
Ron Paul 8%
Without Trump:
Huckabee 21%
Romney 19%
Gingrich 15%
Palin 13%
Paul 11%
Since the last such poll CNN did, Huckabee has the same support, Romney has increased one point, Newt has increased five, and Palin has fallen six.

-- Joining current Georgia governor Nathan Deal -- as well as two members of Georgia's Congressional delegation -- former governor Sonny Perdue endorsed Newt for President.

-- Two more upcoming visits to the Granite State:
Clearly pleased with the reception he received last week in New Hampshire, Newt Gingrich has scheduled two more stops in the first-in-the-nation primary state in the coming weeks.

The Union Leader's Granite Status has exclusively learned that Gingrich, the former House Speaker, will return on March 30 for a series of media interviews and private meetings with key Republicans on the Seacoast. That night, he will travel to Massachusetts for a speaking engagement at Salem State College.
Continue Reading

Gingrich will be back again on April 4, with the featured appearance at 10 a.m. at Saint Anselm College's New Hampshire Institute of Politics. There, he will speak at a meeting directed at students but open to the public.

Newt's interview with Sean Hannity (video).

Part 1.

Part 2.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Rick Perry's Campaign Manager and top Political Consultant on Newt's team

From the Statesman:
Rob Johnson, who managed Gov. Rick Perry’s 2010 re-election campaign, has signed on with Newt Gingrich as Gingrich explores whether to run for president.

Johnson, 36, will be a senior political adviser for Gingrich, who for months has been nearing a presidential bid.


He’s not the only member of Perry’s circle who is mixing in with Gingrich’s. Dave Carney, the New Hampshire-based operative who is Perry’s top political consultant, is helping the Gingrich team arrange events in the Granite State.

"The potential opportunity to run a top-tier presidential campaign is an acknowledgment of Rob’s extensive experience and leadership in putting together winning campaigns," Perry said in a statement.
Matt Lewis writes:
Perry ran a superb campaign in 2010, so this strikes me as a good "get" for Gingrich.

But this news also seems to make it clear (if it wasn’t already) that Perry is definitely not running for president.

It also makes me wonder if Perry might eventually endorse Gingrich for president.
Gingrich wrote the foreword for Perry's book, Fed Up.

(Updated 5/6: Johnson is now Newt's campaign manager.)
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