With friends like these, who needs enemies? While Newt Gingrich has been touting the virtues of the 11th commandment (Thou Shall Not Speak Ill of a Fellow Republican), and reminding everyone how much he respects his competitors for the party nomination, they have unleashed a barrage of negative advertising in Iowa designed to blunt his momentum there. As this New York Times graphic indicates, much of the negative advertising has been paid for by so-called SuperPacs who, in theory, cannot coordinate their expenditures with any candidate. But this does not prevent them from spending money on a candidate’s behalf. The L.A. Times reports: “According to the Center for Responsive Politics’ Open Secrets website, which tracks political spending, the pro-Romney group Restore Our Future has spent $2.5 million attacking Gingrich, $1.4 million of it in the last week. That makes Gingrich by far the most besieged candidate of the 2012 presidential cycle. Even President Obama has generated only $1.28 million in spending on negative ads, though far more will come in the general election. One ad analysis company, Kantar Media, said that Iowa airwaves had been clogged with more than 1,200 anti-Gingrich messages in the last several weeks.”
So far the ads appear to have hit their target; Newt’s polling numbers in Iowa have dropped, although his decline has not yet been matched by a corresponding polling climb by either Paul or Romney; the three are now in a scrum at the top with each drawing between 15-25% depending on the poll. While he waits for his own shadow SuperPac-backed advertising to make an impact in Iowa through media buys, Gingrich has been forced to rely on free media to fight back against the paid advertising onslaught. Critics, however, are suggesting that Newt has already waited too long in responding in kind to the negative attacks.
Meanwhile, the Republican establishment has made it as clear as can be that they would rather eat chicken with their fingers alongside the hired help than see Newt become president. Yesterday George “Poppy” Bush unofficially endorsed Mitt Romney for Club President while taking a thinly veiled shot at the Newtster. ( As Jack Goodman points out, the photos from this endorsement session may not play as well as Romney would hope outside the country club set. Here Poppy and the Silver Fox doze while Mitt regales them with tales from his days “roughing it” in Paris. “So that’s when I realized Chub had short-sheeted me – goldarn that rascal!”)
Poppy’s endorsement came on the heels of George Will’s blistering editorial characterizing Newt as the anti-conservative candidate. Will’s is but the latest salvo from pundits and party leaders essentially saying that Newt is unelectable. At this point it seems as if those sentiments are fueled as much by fear that Newt might win the nomination than by any rational reading of the polls, but no matter – they are sticking by their claim.
Is there anyone who would like to see Newt win this thing (besides those Tea Party crazies who appear ready to vote for him)? Why yes – the nation’s artists! Cartoonists are salivating at the prospect of replacing the relatively bland Obama with their dream caricature. And songwriters can dust off all those old Newt protest songs that were in vogue two decades ago! (Hat tip to Sally…) .
So, in the spirit of giving, let’s all raise up our tails and give Newt a holiday salute!