Can Romney be More Ambitious Than Gingrich?

December 12th, 2011 at 12:00 am | 18 Comments |

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I’m undecided and conflicted in the 2012 presidential race. As a purely political matter, I think that former Missouri Senator Jim Talent is absolutely right: Romney would be a significantly more formidable Republican presidential nominee than anyone else now running.

However, as an iconoclastic conservative, and as a contrarian, I must confess to being a big political admirer of Newt Gingrich. Newt’s willingness — and, indeed, eagerness — to do political battle appeals to me. And his willingness to think big and to challenge the conventional wisdom also is praiseworthy in my judgment.

In fact, given the magnitude and intractability of our problems, Newt’s willingness to think outside of the proverbial box is essential. And this helps to explain, I think, his continued appeal to Republican primary voters.

What’s more puzzling is why Romney and his team seem not to grasp this. Why have they not risen to the challenge, with a more bold and audacious campaign? I mean, it’s not as if Romney can’t challenge Newt on Newt’s own terms.

Newt, of course, loves to talk about how we need to “fundamentally change” Washington, and he’s right about that. We do. But as GOP political consultant Alex Castellanos pointed out this morning on Meet the Press:

The best thing about Mitt Romney is not that he’s been a cautious man. The truth about his success is he’s been a transformational figure.

He transformed the Olympics; he transformed, you know, Bain Capital. Built companies. Transformational change in Massachusetts.

That’s the Mitt Romney I know. And this campaign, I think, has diminished him, [Romney], by making him smaller than his great gifts really reveal.

I think that’s right, and it helps to explain why Romney has been unable to surpass 25 percent of the vote in the polls: GOP primary voters suspect that he lacks sufficient depth, vision and courage to tackle the immense challenges that lie ahead.

That may not an unfair rap against Romney; however, the burden is on him to show otherwise. And his time to do so is running out.

John Guardiano blogs at www.ResCon1.com, and you can follow him on Twitter: @JohnRGuardiano.

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18 Comments so far ↓

  • Graychin

    Romney was a brilliant student, and showed great talent at making money as a vulture capitalist. His rescue of the Salt Lake Olympics was due largely to obtaining public funds to subsidize it.

    Romney runs away from his only important achievement in his single term as governor of Massachusetts – near-universal health insurance coverage achieved by a mandate to purchase insurance. The ideas enacted had been floating around for years, and were anything but original.

    For any number of reasons, Romney could not have won a second term. He withdrew instead and began to plot his ascendancy to the White House.

    Conclusion: Romney is an ambitious but one-dimensional man, and a hard one to like personally. He seems cold and brittle. His claims as his top qualification for the job of POTUS that he is “not a career politician” – not for lack of trying to be. Neither am I, but that hardly makes me a candidate to lead America.

    We don’t need a manager. We need a leader. If you want a “fundamentally transformational” Republican candidate, Newt’s the one.

    God help us.

  • Ray_Harwick

    I was just saying today that after Romney’s performance on the debate last night, the GOP establishmen will need to work on Saturday and Sunday for the rest of the nomination phase if Romney is their man. I see the conference call from Karl was moved up to Saturday night.

    And did you hear about Rick Perry’s staff pulling a fast one on the boss? Apparently one of his gay staffer pulled a joke on Perry’s “I’m Proud To Be A Perscuted Christian Who Hates Gays” video/ad and inserted background music composed by America’s most notable classical composer, Aaron Copeland (see: Fanfare For The Common Man) who is also notable for being the most flamingly gay of American composers.

    O’Henry is dull by comparsion.

  • Rabiner

    “In fact, given the magnitude and intractability of our problems, Newt’s willingness to think outside of the proverbial box is absolutely essential. And this helps to explain, I think, his continued appeal to Republican primary voters.”

    Surprised such an ‘iconoclastic conservative’ would think this is conservative thinking?

    • hisgirlfriday

      Pfft. Conservative and radical changed definitions years ago, didn’t you know?

  • hisgirlfriday

    it helps to explain why Romney has been unable to surpass 25 percent of the vote in the polls: GOP primary voters suspect that he lacks sufficient depth, vision and courage to tackle the immense challenges that lie ahead.

    Or… the GOP primary voters suspect that Romney is not ONE OF THEM and could give a crap about depth, vision or courage in a nominee.

    Mitt is not angry.
    Newt is angry, as is the GOP primary voter. Newt is ONE OF THEM.

    Mitt believes that Obama is a well-intentioned but mistaken president whose policies haven’t worked like everyone hoped they would.
    Newt believes that Obama is a malevolent saboteur-in-chief whose policies are intended to destroy America, as does the GOP primary voter. Newt is ONE OF THEM.

    • Reflection Ephemeral

      This, plus Holmes’s point below about how the GOP base laps up hateful lies about the commander-in-chief, captures the situation here. The GOP has abandoned any pretense of coherent policy beliefs over the past decade, so they just have to bark real loud to remind themselves and each other that their team is Teh Awesomest.

      Or as DougJ put it:

      It’s true that the real wingnuts prefer Gingrich (who has only supported things similar to ACA) to Romney (who actually enacted something similar to ACA), but I doubt that this reality-based analysis explains the preference. Teahadists want the candidate who rocks the hardest. It’s that simple. Rick Perry rocked when he talked about guns and lynching and Ben Bernanke, not so much when he took too many pain-killers before the debates. Cain rocked when he was 999 all the time, not so much when he was singing spirituals at pressers. Romney never rocks, so he’ll never appeal to the hard-core right, no matter how much he contorts his policy positions. … It’s just plain stupid to think that past policy positions—and maybe even current policy positions—have anything to do with any of this.

      http://www.balloon-juice.com/2011/12/07/its-got-a-good-beat-and-you-can-dance-to-it/

  • What Romney Must Do to Beat Newt

    [...] published at FrumForum and cross-posted at the Minority Report [...]

  • mlindroo

    > Why have they not risen to the challenge,
    > with a more bold and audacious campaign?

    Maybe this indeed is what GOP primary voters think, which explains Newt’s appeal.
    Not sure if this will win over independents and moderate working class Democrats, though! The GOP conventional wisdom is something like Paul Ryan’s budget and John Kasich’s public sector reforms are necessary. Read: further tax reductions for the wealthy, draconian gov’t spending cuts including those affecting middle class social security entitlements, massive deregulation of business and Wall Street, health care reform repeal in favor of the status quo, increased defense spending and a return to the Bush era foreign policy etc. etc..

    The open question remains, do middle class voters really prefer Gingrichian boldness to Obama’s (admittedly somewhat ineffectual-) defense of the status quo? “The One” is mostly tinkering with details after all, such as proposing a slightly more progressive tax code to help preserve Medicare with as few changes as possible. And even his landmark health care reform is mostly recycling ideas proposed by Mitt Romney and the Heritage Foundation. I suppose desperate voters will get tired of the waiting at some point if the economy does not improve — certainly by 2016. But will things get bad enough for Newt to win next year? I doubt it, although much depends on whether the key issues break Obama’s way in 2012.

    MARCU$

  • TerryF98

    Gaurdiano, trying to polish two turds at the same time. Can only end up in a sticky disgusting mess.

  • Holmes

    “GOP primary voters suspect that [Mitt] lacks sufficient depth, vision and courage to tackle the immense challenges that lie ahead.”

    Yep, that’s it, that what GOP voters want. Or, just perhaps, they want to slay the fantasy dragon that the GOP establishment has inserted into their empty heads. Do the words “Kenyan-born”, “socialist,” “facist”, and other vile epithets ring familiar? Where were you, Mr. Guardiano, when the instigators lit the torches and handed out the pitchforks? Let’s not pretend that the GOP primary voters want anything more than the destruction of the “evil one.” And let’s be honest, if just for a moment, about your role in providing cover for these “real Americans” who just want “their country back.”

  • TerryF98

    “Where were you, Mr. Guardiano, when the instigators lit the torches and handed out the pitchforks?”

    You obviously don’t read his twitter feed! He was right there handing out those pitchforks and lighting the torches. Could not hand and light fast enough.

  • Frumplestiltskin

    Thinking outside the proverbial box does not mean getting rid of child labor laws and having little kids be school janitors, that alone should have been enough to get him laughed out of every political arena, but Republicans have pretty much lost their minds. Gingrich will transform the Republican party into a cesspool, some transformation.
    If they were sane they would nominate the one man that so scared Obama that he co-opted him by making him Ambassador, John Huntsman.

  • LauraNo

    Who are you kidding? We know that the conservative base is not looking for solutions to our ‘immense challenges’. Heck, they won’t even admit they exist, see climate change, see decline of the middle class, see decline of America, see rise of income inequality, see prison population explodes with privatization of the system, see illegal immigration would drop to zero if those prisons were harboring a few employers of illegal immigrants, ET CETERA.

  • ConnerMcMaub

    Newt thinks outside the box. Like how he thinks ideology can be transmitted through DNA.
    This can be the only explanation because the President’s father left when he was a few months old.

    “What if [Obama] is so outside our comprehension, that only if you understand Kenyan, anti-colonial behavior, can you begin to piece together [his actions]?” Gingrich asks. “That is the most accurate, predictive model for his behavior.”

    Either he believes this and is delusional or he’s lying because he knows his audience likes red meat. Newt doesn’t care if he loses, think of how high his speaking fees will be for the rest of his life. It’s also a way to call the president a foreigner and not of our race.

    • Carney

      Yeah, because Obama’s father had zero emotional and ideological significance in his life. Oh wait, Obama wrote a whole book about that.

      • ConnerMcMaub

        Which you read and can quote passages that says how he adopted Kenyan Anti Colonialism? You’re proving the last sentence of my comment, thank you.