Monday Reads: What Hath Newt Wrought?

Good Morning!!

How would you like to have to look at that poster until November? Well, quite a few of the pundits are now saying that it could happen. It’s still unlikely as of today, but it’s pretty clear the Republican base simply doesn’t like Mitt Romney, and the only other choices are a crazy old man, a guy who wants to ban birth control and divorce, and Newt Gingrich.

It’s not looking so good for Romney, unless he can start to connect better with Republican voters. He’s still the overall front runner, but if he can’t win big in Florida that could change. Unfortunately for Romney, there’s another debate tonight, and 88% of voters in SC said the debates were very influential in their voting decisions.

I’m fascinated by what is happening to the Republicans, and I spent quite a bit of time yesterday reading opinions on what Newt’s victory in South Carolina means and what might happen next. I thought this morning I’d share some of what I read with you.

Howard Fineman says the Republican race for the nomination will now last “forever, or at least until May.”

The GOP calendar this year is more spread out than it was four years ago, which means that the contest was going to last until at least late April even if Romney had buried Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul long ago. But now that South Carolina has given a boost to Gingrich — and a small but important cache of delegates — it’s clear how long the campaign will last….

Four years ago, nearly 60 percent of all delegates had been chosen by the end of February. Republican officials wanted to correct for that this time around, but they may have overdone it. This year a mere 15 percent of all delegates will have been chosen by the end of February — and even if there were a prohibitive frontrunner (which there is not), no one could mathematically wrap up the nomination before April 24.

Fineman explains that the states have different rules for apportioning delegates. South Carolina is winner take all in each Congressional district. New Hampshire is proportional, so right now Gingrich probably has more delegates than Romney. He suggests there could even be a floor fight at the Convention. And former RNC chairman Michael Steele agrees, saying there’s now a 50-50 chance of that happening.

At Real Clear Politics, Sean Trende writes:

There is no good news buried in here for Mitt Romney. None. As of this writing, Mitt Romney is leading in three counties in South Carolina: Charleston, Beaufort (Hilton Head) and Richland (Columbia). He lost fast-growing, coastal Horry County, home of Myrtle Beach, by 15 points. He lost Greenville and Spartanburg, in the upcountry, by similar margins. He lost Edgefield County by 40 points….

According to the exit polls, Romney lost among every major category of voter. The demographic groups he managed to win include those with postgraduate degrees (18 percent of the electorate), people earning $200,000 or more (5 percent), moderates (23 percent), non-evangelicals (35 percent), and pro-choicers (34 percent). None of the leads over Gingrich in these groups were particularly large.

He says Romney is no longer the inevitable nominee.

Simply put, there are very few states where he can perform among the major demographic groups the way he performed in South Carolina and still expect to win. And remember, this is still in many ways the electorate that selected Christine O’Donnell, Carl Paladino and Linda McMahon as its standard-bearers — in very blue states with relatively moderate GOP electorates, no less.

This vote was an utter repudiation of Romney, and it absolutely will be repeated in state after state if something doesn’t change the basic dynamic of the race. It is true that Gingrich doesn’t have funds or organization, but he gets a ton of free media from the debates, and he has an electorate that simply wants someone other than Romney.

Trende says there about a 35% chance that Romney could lose the nomination now. It turns out that Romney did get some delegates from SC–a total of 2 out of the total of 25. That’s pretty pathetic.

Ed Morrissy at Hot Air calls Romney “evitable” now. He isn’t as negative about Mitt’s chances as Trende was.

It’s worth noting that Romney won the same percentage of the vote (27%) that polls showed him having two weeks ago when he led 27/24 over Rick Santorum. Gingrich won by firing up nearly everyone else and getting 40% of the vote in South Carolina. That was an amazing accomplishment, all the more so because it mainly resulted from the two televised debates, and despite as well as because of the attack from Gingrich’s second former wife Marianne.
How did that happen? Thanks to that confluence of events, personal performance, and a couple of stumbles by Romney in the debates, Gingrich tapped into the lingering dissatisfaction of conservatives with Romney, fear of losing any chance of stopping Romney, and anger against the national media. This was an emotional sale, not primarily based on policy choices, which haven’t changed in months on either side. His big win will spark hope that Romney can be beat in the primaries, and the scope of that win will impact the Florida race, certainly.

However, it’s probably not a gamechanger, at least not on its own.

At New York Magazine, John Heilemann thinks Romney is really in trouble. Here’s his take on the exit polls from SC:

Gingrich beat Romney soundly across the board: 42–26 with men and 38–29 with women; by nine or more points in every age cohort; by double digits in every educational cohort except those voters with postgraduate study (which Romney won by a bare two points); among both married and unmarried voters; among the poor, the middle class, and the rich; among Republicans and independents; among the very conservative and the somewhat conservative, losing only (by just five points) among self-described moderates or liberals; among tea party backers, God-squadders, Protestants, and Catholics; among those most concerned about beating Barack Obama, about being a true conservative, and about having the right experience for the job of president; among late deciders and early deciders; and especially dramatically among those for whom the debates were important.

Heilemann thinks Gingrich could win Florida.

Florida is a closed primary, the first contest so far in which only registered Republicans are allowed to cast ballots. And the state’s GOP voters are far more conservative and anti-Establishment than many people understand. This is especially true in the panhandle of northern Florida, where Gingrich is likely to take up residence for much of the time between now and the vote on January 31. But watch for Gingrich to play hard for the state’s Hispanic voters — and not just the Cuban-Americans who are thick on the ground in South Florida but also the polyglot Latino population around Orlando — by emphasizing his stance on immigration, which is notably more moderate than Romney’s. Between all this and the wave of momentum and free media coverage he’ll enjoy coming out of South Carolina, the former speaker, I think, has the upper hand, though not by a lot.

Romney could very well end up regretting taking such a hard line on immigration, but he really can’t switch now. After all, his reputation as a flip-flopper is part of what makes voters so suspicious of him.

And get this: Politico says that Jeb Bush is planning to stay neutral throughout the Florida primary. I’ll bet some GOP establishment types are going to be calling him and begging him to endorse Romney.

We’ve often noted how lucky Obama has been his whole life. He got lucky again with the SC results, says Andrew Romano at The Daily Beast.

South Carolina takes Obama’s luck to another level. Last weekend, pundits insisted that there was only one plausible scenario going forward: Romney captures the Palmetto State and wraps up the nomination by the end of January. That would have been bad for Obama because the Republican attacks on Romney would have ended and Romney’s attacks on Obama would have intensified.

But now there are two possible outcomes, and both of them appear to be rosier for the president. The first is that Romney still clinches the nomination, but not this month, or next, or even the one after that. As Howard Fineman reports, the GOP slap fest will now last “at least until May”—“not only because there seems to be a genuine three-way race in the offing (or at least a two-and-a-half-way) involving Gingrich, Romney, and Paul, but because of the GOP’s primary calendar and state-by-state rules for choosing delegates.”

Hey, I wouldn’t be discounting Santorum either. With Newt’s history of blowing up, anything can happen now.

Charles Krauthammer is really pissed at the “bumbling GOP” for helping Obama out. According to Krauthammer, the anti-Romney candidates are responsible for handing Obama a winning issue–income inequality.

The struggling Democratic class-war narrative is suddenly given life and legitimacy by … Republicans! Newt Gingrich and Rick Perry make the case that private equity as practiced by Romney’s Bain Capital is nothing more than vulture capitalism looting companies and sucking them dry while casually destroying the lives of workers….

Suddenly Romney’s wealth, practices and taxes take center stage. And why not? If leading Republicans are denouncing rapacious capitalism that enriches the 1 percent while impoverishing everyone else, should this not be the paramount issue in a campaign occurring at a time of economic distress?

Now, economic inequality is an important issue, but the idea that it is the cause of America’s current economic troubles is absurd. Yet, in a stroke, the Republicans have succeeded in turning a Democratic talking point — a last-ditch attempt to salvage re-election by distracting from their record — into a central focus of the nation’s political discourse.

Paul Begala and James Carville are both gloating about the surprise turnaround that took place Saturday. Begala writes:

[W]e can hear the weeping, the wailing, the gnashing of teeth of the Republican establishment as Gingrich’s victory sends them into full-blown panic. I’m not talking about mere fear, nor normal nervousness. Not even the feeling you get when the captain says, “We’ve lost power in one of our four engines.” No, this is worse. Worse even than when your doctor says, “I don’t like the looks of that shadow on the X-ray.”

This is terror. Chest-clutching, breath-sucking, soul-shaking panic. This is your teenage daughter telling you, “I think I’m in trouble.” This is a Turkish border guard pulling you into a holding room when you’ve got a baggie of coke in your pocket. This is what George H.W. Bush famously called “deep doo-doo.”

And why did Gingrich win–the debates.

Gingrich won the South Carolina primary not because of advertising, but rather because of his debate performances. Eighty-eight percent of South Carolina Republicans said the debates were important to making up their minds, and in the two key debates, Gingrich hit every GOP erogenous zone. He scolded Fox News’s Juan Williams when Williams asked him about the dog-whistle language Gingrich uses to stir up racial stereotypes. Williams, the author of Eyes on the Prize, a respected history of the civil-rights movement, knows of what he speaks. But Gingrich knows his party’s base, and the base loves both the coded language and attacking anyone who calls them on it.

But it was Thursday night’s CNN debate that sealed the deal. Going into the debate, Gingrich and Romney were tied in the polls. And each had an important and obvious question they were going to be asked: for Gingrich, it was his ex-wife’s explosive allegation that he had asked for an “open marriage.” For Romney, it was whether he would release his tax returns. Think about it: which question would you rather answer? Mitt had the easier challenge by a mile. Yet Gingrich got a standing ovation by bitterly denouncing moderator John King in particular and the media in general. Romney got booed for his weak, waffling non-answer.

Carville says the Republicans “have a disaster on [their] hands.”

Let me break it to you gently — you’ve got a first-class disaster on your hands. I know you boys thought this thing would work out and you would be able to whip the Republicans in line to fall in behind Mitt (I assume you are all males but if there is a female in the establishment, I apologize.) Not going too good, is it fellows?

It’s been a terrible time to be a Republican. There have been many moments during this process that have caused me great joy. Certainly the events of Thursday, ending with the CNN debate, and even the Fox debate Monday night, have helped ease the pain of my beloved Tigers’ and Saints’ recent defeats.

I mean, most people thought it was kind of a watermark when your Tea Party gang booed the golden rule. You know, I’ve spent some time in Philly and they have always thought they were pretty radical because they actually booed Santa Claus and Willie Mays. Philly, I’ve got news for you — you ain’t got nothing on South Carolina Republicans. They just aren’t buying any of that do-unto-others garbage….

But Carville claims he “feels their pain.”

Meanwhile things are getting ugly between Newt and Mitt, and when things get ugly Newt has the advantage. Gingrich says he’s “confident” he can beat “timid Romney.” Mitt Romney reportedly sent a cake to Gingrich headquarters to celebrate the 15th anniversary of Newt’s ethics scandal. And Mitt Romney surrogate Chris Christie called Gingrich an “embarrassment” to the GOP.

I will be watching the debate tonight for as long as I can stand it. Will Newt come up with a new reason to attack the media? Will Mitt develop a personality? Will Santorum draw attention to himself by talking about his membership in Regnum Christi, a catholic cult founded by a drug addict, bigamist, and pedophile named Marciel Maciel? Will Santorum reveal that Gingrich is also connected to this cult?

Tune in to the debate tonight if you’re also curious.

46 Comments on “Monday Reads: What Hath Newt Wrought?”

  1. Pat Johnson says:

    I kind of think that one of the main reasons the GOP dislikes Mitt is based on one simple premise: he wouldn’t be caught dead saying “sh*t” if he had a mouthful. Nor the “F” word for that matter. This does not make him “one of us”.

    Newt, on the other hand, would throw these words into his daily prayer session if he thought it would get him closer to the nomination.

    Where MItt is seen as “prissy”, Newt comes across as more profane.

    Newt is tapping into the overt hatred that is prevalent in this country. He has hinted about Obama’s “colonialism”, code for for the racist tendencies the party has done nothing to obscure.

    That racism is alive and well in speeches referring to “food stamp president” and urging black kids to get up off their lazy butts and find a job sweeping floors.

    Mitt, carrying the baggage of his Mormonism, just hasn’t gone there for obvious reasons. But Newt has firmly established through his vileness that nothing is off limits in this arena.

    Busy scrubbing his past and using euphemisms for his transgressions, Newt is banking on the ignorance of the electorate to overlook his character flaws which is why he will stoop to any level to ensure his success.

    This is “red meat” to a base that is comfortable with expressing their sexist, racist, homophobic rants with him as their vehicle.

    • dakinikat says:

      Mitt can’t get angry. He can only get bent out if shape. The southern strategy and the play for Christofascists brought them a mean angry base. Newt ushered in the age of mass nastiness and hypocrisy. It is exactly what they sowed. Angry religious nuts and bigots that are tired of doing the hard work of the greedy.

      • bostonboomer says:

        Gingrich’s campaign reminds me of the days when George Wallace ran for president.

      • joanelle says:

        You’re right BB – and Pat I was just thinking that Mitt’s religious – and his religion has created the steadfast, cool demeanor that the average American is not used to anymore. and Dak you hit the nail on the head when you say that Newt ushered in the age of mass nastiness and hypocrisy – he did it to Bill and he’s doing it to Mitt – he’d do it to anyone!

    • Fannie says:

      The tea party republcians want someone like Newt, who comes across with a mean, nasty, and agressive tone. They love it when Newt tells the media that they have had enough of them telling Republicans what to do.

      I think Romney is seen as ambitious, he’s got the money to put him in the White House. That is not good enough to get the job done.

      What he has got do as of today, is tell the people, how he is going to get something done for everybody’s good. Yes, we the people need someone who will create some solutions, and don’t matter what party you belong to. But here’s the deal, he needs to change the tone, ignore the media, and go after the issues.

      • bostonboomer says:

        He won’t do that though. He’s more likely to turn nasty just like Newt.

      • peggysue22 says:

        The irony of all this is that Newt Gingrich is everything the Tea Party is presumably against–an insider who has habitually lied and finagled his way through the system, a man who registered support of the bank bailouts, a lobbyist [despite his howls to the contrary] and a hypocrite supreme, mouthing Family Values while having a history of multiple adulteries. It brands the Tea Party as the simple obstructionists they’ve turned into. Obviously, they want a candidate to exact some blood during the debates. As for winning? They’ve thrown that overboard with a Gingrich vote. Along with good sense. Because Gingrich is all pomposity and ego. He’s for himself, no one else. Just another opportunist like Barack Obama.

  2. janicen says:

    It’s interesting that Carville and Begala are giddy about the disharmony in the Republican party. Apparently the party bosses are wringing their hands over the disruption in their plan. Dial back to 08 when pro Clinton stalwarts were standing by our candidate and refusing to step back and allow the candidate preferred by our party bosses glide into the nomination. We were dismissed as stubborn and ineffective. A meaningless annoyance. Where are the voices in the MSM calling for Newt to step down?

    • bostonboomer says:

      I was thinking there are a lot of parallels between this and 2008. It seems both party establishments feel they should be able to dictate to the grass roots, and they don’t like it when the grass roots fight back.

      • janicen says:

        I just hope that, if Romney wins the general election, this all doesn’t mean that Newt will be Secretary of State! Just kidding. I shudder at the thought!

      • bostonboomer says:

        If the establishment forces Romney on the base now, Obama could win in a landslide. He’d also win in a landslide against Gingrich.

      • foxyladi14 says:

        AMEN!!! 😉

    • Fannie says:

      Romney ought to blast the hell out Newt……….every damn chance he gets – he needs to say we do not trust NEWT, and it is proven, with 88% of republicans voted to censure him on ethnics violations. Even though it was the dems who brought the charges, the republicans voted to out him, because they did not trust THEN, and don’t trust him NOW.

  3. gxm17 says:

    I’ve been saying for a while now not to count Newt out. I can’t stand the guy but over the past 12 years having a man I can’t stand as president has become the norm. So, in that respect, I’m not afraid of Newt. I won’t vote for him, but I won’t vote against him either. Well, at least the Republicans are putting on an entertaining circus. Pass the popcorn!

  4. bostonboomer says:

    Rasmussen poll: Gingrich leads Romney by 9 points in Florida.

    Gingrich 41%
    Romney 32%
    Santorum 11%
    Paul 9%

    Romney has already spent more than $1 million on ads in Florida, Gingrich has spent $800.

  5. quixote says:

    You heard it on Skydancing first. Right after Newter’s “I’m the Pied Piper racist, follow me” debate performance, I was pointing out the source of his sudden jump in the polls. And it’s got nothing to do with “debating” skills. It also may have less attraction outside the South.

    Although I see the latest tracking polls have Newter ahead. /*gag*/

    • Pat Johnson says:

      Hey, some of the moron crew is actually crediting Quiterella with Newt’s win.

      Obviously she is more than happy to set aside her “Christian beliefs and family values” to support this thieving liar with his three wives, various mistresses, and numerous ethics charges that cost him the speakership and 300 thousand to boot.

      While St. Sarah expounds on Fox about “crony capitalism” she is throwing her support to one of the biggest recipients in DC!

      Can you get anymore two faced than this?

  6. bostonboomer says:

    This is all about the base rejecting Romney

    During a round table discussion on NBC’s Meet the Press, Chuck Todd explained that Gingrich’s win was “about Mitt Romney.”

    “He hasn’t made the sale to conservatives,” Todd observed. “And losing in South Carolina, he can’t dismiss it. This is the heart and soul of the conservative movement, the folks that show up at telephones, that knock on the doors — and he doesn’t have their support.”

    “There’s no doubt about it,” Scarborough agreed. “The party base is revolting, but they are revolting against the Washington Republican establishment anointing Mitt Romney.”

    “Just like Herman Cain was not about Herman Cain. It was a rejection of Mitt Romney. Rick Perry, a rejection of Mitt Romney. Michele Bachmann, a rejection of Mitt Romney. Newt Gingrich wave one, a rejection of Mitt Romney. Now we have Newt Gingrich wave two, a rejection of Mitt Romney.”

  7. Delphyne says:

    And on a somewhat lighter note – this was on my FB page, posted by Jacques Pepin:

    I spoke with my daughter yesterday and asked her to post – “Has anyone else noticed that Newt G looks a lot…..a whole lot – like Benny Hill??”

  8. bostonboomer says:

    Rand Paul was detained by the TSA at Nashville airport this morning for refusing a full body patdown.

    • Pilgrim says:

      Yeah, what is it?

      • Pilgrim says:

        Regnum Christi, what is it?

      • bostonboomer says:

        Regnum Christi is a lay organization that is part of the Legionaries of Christ–it’s a Catholic cult (see links in my post) that Santorum belongs to and Gingrich is also connected with–I don’t know for sure if he’s a member. It’s even weirder than Opus Dei. I’m considering writing a post about it. I wish I could find out for sure if Callista and Newt belong to it.

    • northwestrain says:

      Germany has rejected the porno scans because they found the machines had 30-35% false positives (even sweat can set off an alarm). Which means that even though passengers go through the porno death ray machines — many will still have to undergo the sexual molestation.

      Both Pauls — dad and son — object to the TSA and their tactics — and this is the only subject that I can find any remote agreement with the father son team.

      The only good thing about Rand Paul’s refusal of the pat down is that he missed a speaking appointment with the white slavery group (anti-choice — demanding control of all women’s bodies group of nuts.)

      Meanwhile a load of highly radio active “tissue holders” sold in Bed, Bad and Beyond made it through the port of New Jersey and were sold to unsuspecting customers who now can be sent to Gitmo for owning highly radio active tissue holders.

  9. bostonboomer says:

    I was wondering if anyone might have questions on Regnum Christi (see the end of my post).

  10. bostonboomer says:

    Obama’s SOTU will focus on jobs (is there an election coming up or something?). No sign of any concrete proposals yet.

    • Pat Johnson says:

      Wouldn’t it be nice for once to have one of these candidates speak the truth about these jobs? With Obama included, to actually address the facts:

      Look folks, those good jobs along with manufacturing have been permanently moved overseas. Those people you get stuck with when making calls for service are being paid pennies on the dollar on behalf of those corporations who are only concerned with their bottom line and they are not coming back any time soon.

      Unless you want to elect a congress that is truly in favor of closing those unfair tax loopholes preventing American business to be done overseas, then whatever anyone tells you about “job creation” is full of sh*t. They know it, you know it, so let’s stop playing this game.

      If one of these jokers could actually be truthful and admit up front that unions needed to busted so that these wealthy corporate donors can rake in even more millions while offering the average wage earner something close to minimum wage and no benefits.

      The war on the middle class is never going to be solved with useless soundbites, or who can scream louder about “jobs, jobs, jobs” that are permanently holed up in China and India.

      You will never hear the truth from Obama, Newtie, or MIttens since they are indebted to those who can write the checks to make commercials that do nothing but confuse.

      The simple fact remains that this jobs that elevated workers into the middle class are gone, baby, gone.

      It will take an act of congress to bring them back and I don’t hold my breath waiting.

      • ralphb says:

        For hand assembled products, I imagine that’s right in that we can’t compete with Chinese slave labor. However, for lots of jobs I don’t think it’s correct that they are gone, baby, gone.

        What we need is universal high speed internet access in rural and small towns in the US. With that, and some education/training, most of the knowledge worker jobs could be done here and economically competitive with just about anybody.

        Labor costs were not the only reason those jobs went to India. It was easier to outsource them there than to do the same thing in low cost of living areas in the US, since access to the internet was not available in those rural areas.

  11. bostonboomer says:

    Tennesee Tea Partiers want to eliminate any references to founding fathers owning slaves from textbooks.

  12. ralphb says:

    Dave Wiegel in Slate went looking for Newt voters and found them. They are really more about hating Obama than anything else and want him “put in his place”.

    Tribe of Newt

    After a while, the only differences between their endorsements were the verbs they used to describe what Gingrich would do to Barack Obama in debates.

    In Charleston, a voter named Jayne Harmon claimed that Gingrich would “dismantle” the president.

    In Monck’s Corner, I learned that Gingrich would “humiliate” him. 

In Columbia, I was told that Obama would be “lacerated” or “annihilated.” When Gingrich spoke, and repeated his promise to challenge Obama to seven debates, a biker named Vincent Sbraccia hoisted his sign and screamed: “Wipe the floor with him! Wipe the floor with him!”

    This is some really nasty stuff but it’s the same thing I see from some former “Hillary” democrats who’ve went full moron.

  13. madamab says:

    Yup, the Repubs are self-destructing in a very nasty and ugly way. Now we have TWO dysfunctional Parties in America. Um, yay?

  14. ralphb says:

    This may sum up the GOP problems pretty well in the age of Gingrich.