Newt Gingrich to the Rescue?
Newt Gingrich was given a hero’s welcome at CPAC, doing nothing to dampen speculation that he is running for president.
Newt Gingrich, who led the Republican Party to power a dozen years ago, told cheering conservatives Saturday it is time to overhaul a balky, slow-moving government locked in the last century.
Gingrich’s appearance at the Conservative Political Action Conference was scripted like a presidential campaign stop, with young supporters in red T-shirts passing out buttons and pamphlets. “We clearly need the Republican Party to reacquire a movement that designs a 21st century Contract with America,” Gingrich said, recalling the set of proposals at the heart of his successful 1994 strategy to win congressional races.
Gingrich, who has been on a promotional book tour, said he isn’t currently running for president, though he hasn’t ruled it out. “Ideas precede reform,” Gingrich said. “If you can’t think it, you can’t say it and you can’t do it.”
The former lawmaker from Georgia was accorded “rock star” treatment by those in the crowded hotel ballroom. He was interrupted frequently by standing ovations, hailed with cries of “Newt, Newt, Newt and besieged by young fans eager for a photo with Gingrich.
Conservatives at this conference expressed mounting frustration with the expansion of government and increased spending in the last five years, even with Republicans in control of the White House and Congress.
Gingrich indirectly criticized McCain by attacking the campaign finance law McCain sponsored along with Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wis., calling it “an assault on the First Amendment.” The law places limits on how much money can be raised by candidates and campaigns, and limits on how that money can be used.
In an earlier post, I noted that “CPAC is attended mostly by the people who man the booths and by wild-eyed college kids hoping to see some famous conservatives in person.” This seems further evidence of that.
Gingrich is an interesting thinker and an excellent public speaker. While some of his tactics were questionable, he was a visionary who saw a path to Republican control of Congress at a time when it was virtually inconceivable.
Still, like most insurgent leaders, he didn’t know what to do with power once he had it. He had a very good first hundred days as Speaker and then pretty much flopped. He was consistently outmaneuvered by Bill Clinton and Dick Morris and became an albatross around the party’s neck. Further, he has made some truly despicable choices in his personal life that are hardly worthy of a man who would be president.
I’m happy to have Gingrich around as an ideas man. He should start up another think tank. But President of the United States? I don’t think so.