Bob Dole Unloads On Newt Gingrich

The Republican old guard is continuing to become more public about their problems with Newt Gingrich, and today the man who led Congress with Gingrich for two years pretty much throws the former Speaker under the bus:

I have not been critical of Newt Gingrich but it is now time to take a stand before it is too late.  If Gingrich is the nominee it will have an adverse impact on Republican candidates running for county, state, and federal offices. Hardly anyone who served with Newt in Congress has endorsed him and that fact speaks for itself. He was a one-man-band who rarely took advice. It was his way or the highway.

Gingrich served as Speaker from 1995 to 1999 and had trouble within his own party. Already in 1997 a number of House members wanted to throw him out as Speaker.  But he hung on until after the 1998 elections when the writing was on the wall. His mounting ethics problems caused him to resign in early 1999. I know whereof I speak as I helped establish a line of credit of $150,000 to help Newt pay off the fine for his ethics violations. In the end, he paid the fine with money from other sources.

Gingrich had a new idea every minute and most of them were off the wall.  He loved picking a fight with Bill Clinton because he knew this would get the attention of the press. This and a myriad of other specifics helped to topple Gingrich in 1998.

In my run for the presidency in 1996 the Democrats greeted me with a number of negative TV ads and in every one of them Newt was in the ad.  He was very unpopular and I am not only certain that this did not help me, but that it also cost House seats that year. Newt would show up at the campaign headquarters with an empty ice-bucket in his hand — that was a symbol of some sort for him — and I never did know what he was doing or why he was doing it.

I don’t think it’s much of a secret that the relationship between Dole and Gingrich wasn’t all that great. It was apparent during the Government Shutdown crisis of 1995 and 1996 that the two weren’t necessarily on the same page, although Dole never did go behind the Speaker’s back to cut his own deal or otherwise seek to undermine him. Nonetheless, these are some pretty harsh words, although I guess that’s no surprise considering it’s Bob Dole we’re talking about.

And no, I have no idea what the ice bucket could have been about either.

Photo via The Atlantic

FILED UNDER: 2012 Election, The Presidency, US Politics, , , , , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. MBunge says:

    I wonder if all these Republicans trashing Newt realize they could very well be slitting their own throat? If Romney’s the candidate, he’s clearly going to run as a moderate and not at all in any sort of Tea Party fashion. If he loses in that way to Obama, I don’t see how the result is going to be anything but genocidal rage from the GOP base.


  2. ed says:

    Once a hatchet man, always a hatchet man, I guess.

    One can’t help but wonder if there will be any backlash against this coordinated effort by the Republican Powers That Be to eliminate Newt. Can Newt judo this back with some sort of “can’t you see that They want you shut up and get in line and vote for the flip-flopping Mormon abortion-supporter who has a Swiss bank account in the Cayman Islands? Besides, who pisses off Liberals more?” or something?

  3. Hey Norm says:

    “…It was his way or the highway…”

    That’s the Tea Stained Caucus’s way as well. I love it when a plan comes together.

  4. DRS says:

    The thing that gets me is that all of these criticisms of Gingrich only make him more attractive to his base. The whole point of his current support is that the Establishment doesn’t like him. I’ll repeat myself but since most Republicans think ANYONE can defeat Obama, they’re fully prepared to ignore the criticisms and vote Gingrich. It’s the equivalent of having your cake and eating it too.

  5. Tsar Nicholas says:

    This isn’t surprising. Dole is way past his prime, of course, but he still cares deeply about the country and its direction. If Newt is the nominee Obama not only will win reelection it’ll be a Goldwater-esque fiasco for the GOP. Dole sees this. He’s trying to help avoid it.

  6. Fiona says:

    To know Newt is apparently to despise him. I think the same pretty much applies to Palin.

  7. Jr says:

    The establishment doesn’t seem to get it.

    The more they bash Newt, the more support he will get from the base. 70% of the base just doesn’t want MItt Romney and it seems the establishment just doesn’t want to accept that.

  8. David M says:

    Romney lost the primary in 2008 to McCain, and the conventional wisdom about McCain is now that no one really liked him or was excited by him. Seems like that’s more and more a description of Romney this time around.

  9. MM says:

    @Jr: They get it, they just think that fielding a competitive candidate is more important than pleasing the purity trolls.

  10. Tom Meloth says:

    Read the comment section of NRO over this, it’s out of control.
    95% back Newt, and most refer to Bob Dole, War hero and Republican standard bearer for decades as a RINO, a Squish, a bad guy who doesn’t get it and helped to ruin the party.
    Anyone who opposes the fringe and base is cast off, demonized or scoffed at, up to and including some of the leading figures of the past.
    Lots of people say Reagan would have never survived this cycle – and here is proof.
    This is becoming insane… (I know “becoming” maybe a bit late), but really, when one of the two parties is clearly off the rails, it does not bode well for the country.
    A loss of “Goldwater” size could inflame passions that are being stoked now by the Right Wing talk radio/Fox news crowd.
    Not to be a concern troll, but bad things could happen, after a loos of that magnitude (and a huge loss won’t be seen as a repudiation, it’ll be seen as a MSM/Demo-rat coup or some such nonsense) and I don’t want some ersatz civil war next year.

  11. DRS says:

    Thanks, TM, but I just don’t have the intestinal fortitude for NR. You’re a brave man!

    If they really wanted to mess with the Gingrich supporters’ collective head, they’d truck out all the old guys like George Bush the first and the remaining moderates like Olympia Snowe and get THEM to endorse the Newtster. Major brain explosion in seconds….

  12. The “bucket” refers to the reform initiated by Gingrich when he assumed the Speakership. Ice was regularly delivered to the office of each member of Congress out of tradition; this had been going on for over a hundred years, I believe.

    Gingrich used the symbol of the bucket to show that he was the real fiscal conservative, the institutional reformer and the futuristic thinker who was challenging the old guard. This makes his continual praise of Reagan (as old school and traditional of a modern-era Republican as they get) a grinding, nails-on-the-chalkboard sort of thing for people like Dole.

  13. I think this does Gingrich in. It isn’t that the “establishment” doesn’t like him, it’s the way they don’t like him. This isn’t a policy difference. This is a sanity difference. If the “base” can’t parse that … woe be the base.

    (Of course with continued amusement that “the establishment” are now the Bob Doles of the world, and not the NY Times or the ACLU.)

  14. Joel says:

    @john personna:
    “Establishment” now means “anyone to the right of me.”

  15. Joel says:

    Oops, that would be “anyone to the left.”

  16. anjin-san says:

    The establishment doesn’t seem to get it.

    The more they bash Newt, the more support he will get from the base.

    And if Newt gets nominated “the base” can spend the next four years basking in a glorious defeat. Of course Mitt will almost certainly lose as well, but it just won’t be a feel good, whine-about-it-till-you-lose-your-voice kind of defeat.

  17. anjin-san says:

    Bob Dole, War hero

    Dole is a decorated combat vet. That, and that alone is reason enough for the fringe right to hate him. I don’t agree with a lot of his opinions, but he has sure as hell earned a little respect.

    Some information on Dole’s service record:

    In 1942, Dole joined the United States Army’s Enlisted Reserve Corps to fight in World War II. Dole became a second lieutenant in the Army’s 10th Mountain Division.

    In April 1945, while engaged in combat near Castel d’Aiano in the Apennine mountains southwest of Bologna, Italy, Dole was hit by German machine gun fire in his upper right back and his right arm was also badly injured. As Lee Sandlin describes, when fellow soldiers saw the extent of his injuries all they thought they could do was to “give him the largest dose of morphine they dared and write an ‘M’ for ‘morphine’ on his forehead in his own blood, so that nobody else who found him would give him a second, fatal dose.”[8] Dole had to wait nine hours on the battlefield before being taken to the 15th Evacuation Hospital, where he began a recovery that would take until 1948 at Percy Jones Army Hospital in Battle Creek, Michigan (where Dole met future fellow politicians Daniel Inouye and Philip Hart). His right arm was paralyzed; Dole often carried a pen in his right hand to signal that he could not shake hands with that arm.