Newt Gingrich presidential campaign, 2012


Newt Gingrich presidential campaign, 2012
Newt Gingrich for President 2012
Newtgingrich12.gif
Campaign U.S. presidential election, 2012
Candidate Newt Gingrich
Former U.S. Congressman
Former Speaker of the House
Affiliation Republican Party
Headquarters Atlanta, Georgia
Key people Michael Krull (Manager)
Joe DeSantis (Communications Director)
Amy Pass (Finance Coordinator)[1][2]
Receipts US$2.9 Million (2011-09-30)
Website
Newt 2012

Former U.S. Congressman and Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich of Georgia began preparing for a possible campaign for the 2012 Republican Party nomination for President of the United States shortly following the 2010 midterm elections. He was politically active during the midterm elections, and helped several Tea Party-backed Republicans with his endorsements and fundraising abilities. In early 2011, he chose to run for President and left his position as a political analyst for Fox News. During his campaign, he suffered an campaign implosion in June and has since revived his campaign through strong debate performances and the introduction of a new "Twenty-First Century Contract with America".

Contents

Background

Newt Gingrich speaking to voters in Des Moines, Iowa

Gingrich was first elected to Congress in 1978, and served as Speaker of the House after helping to orchestrate the 1994 Republican Revolution in part with the Contract With America. He served as Speaker until exiting the House in 1999. Since that time, he has published several historical novels and served as a political consultant and recently as a Fox News contributor. He was previously speculated as a candidate in the 2008 election, and has supported the Tea Party Movement.[3]

For most of 2010, Gingrich spent a considerable amount of time campaigning throughout the early primary states, particularly Iowa and New Hampshire. In 2011, he took part in the Conservative Political Action Conference, fueling further speculation of a potential run.[4] Within the Republican Party, Gingrich faced several political liabilities for his failed marriages. In March, he appealed to Christian conservatives, saying he regretted that part of his past and made poor moral judgements.[5]

Reviews

Conservative Christian political activist David Lane, who worked with Gingrich in 2010 to unseat three Iowa justices who ruled in favor of same-sex marriage, praised Gingrich's ability to raise funds. However, he said that Gingrich's task of winning the GOP primary was difficult, "on the level of an earthquake moving the Rockies a foot or two."[6] According to Human Events columnist Tony Lee, if the 2012 campaign is "focused on wonkish policy", Gingrich's "depth and range on a variety of issues" will give him a "homecourt advantage" and Gingrich will be a "more than formidable candidate".[7] The Club for Growth gave Gingrich a mixed review, citing his support for the individual health care mandate and his "penchant for tinkering with rewards for favored industries and outcomes".[8]

Campaign developments

Announcement

Gingrich had maintained that he would not officially decide whether or not to pursue the office of President until at least February 2011, and would announce his decision sometime in March.[9] It was erroneously announced on March 1, 2011, that Gingrich had formed an exploratory committee, and would officially announce the committee in Georgia after a meeting with Governor Nathan Deal.[3] He actually launched an exploratory committee on March 3, when he started his new website.[10] The website, entitled "Newt Exploratory 2012", features a photo of Gingrich with his wife, Callista, superimposed over a background of flag-waving Americans. The Getty Images-licensed background was found to have been previously used on the website of the late Senator Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts.[11][12] He officially declared his run for President on March 11, 2011, through Twitter and YouTube, making him the first candidate in American history to do so.[13]

Meet the Press interview

On May 15, 2011, Gingrich was interviewed by David Gregory on Meet the Press. Questioning Gingrich on the issue of entitlements, Gregory asked: "The Medicare trust fund, in stories that have come out over the weekend, is now going to be depleted by 2024, five years earlier than predicted. Do you think that Republicans ought to buck the public opposition and really move forward to completely change Medicare, turn it into a voucher program where you give seniors some premium support and--so that they can go out and buy private insurance?" Gingrich answered: "I don't think right-wing social engineering is any more desirable than left-wing social engineering. I don't think imposing radical change from the right or the left is a very good way for a free society to operate."[14] Perceived to be criticism of the Republican Party's plan to reform Medicare for the 2012 United States federal budget, the comments were met with a great deal of backlash from the GOP and various political pundits.[15][16] The following day, Wisconsin Representative Paul Ryan, the chairman of the House Budget Committee who outlined the 2012 budget proposal, told guest host Raymond Arroyo on the The Laura Ingraham Show: "With allies like that, who needs the left?"[17] Rush Limbaugh advanced a theory that Gingrich intended to be provocative in his "social engineering" statement, and wanted to sacrifice short-term political capital in order to be a stronger candidate in the long term race.[18]

Two days later, Gingrich appeared on On the Record w/ Greta Van Susteren in order to respond to criticism he had received over his earlier comments.[19] During the interview, Gingrich explained to Van Susteren that Gregory's question was "a hypothetical baloney question" that he should have refused to answer.[20] After telling Van Susteren that he had contacted Ryan to apologize for his earlier comments, he added: "I want to make sure every House Republican is protected from some kind of dishonest, Democratic edge. So, let me say on the record: Any ad which quotes what I said Sunday is a falsehood and because I have said publicly, those words were inaccurate and unfortunate."[20] Sarah Palin, former Governor of Alaska and the 2008 Republican vice presidential nominee, defended the former Speaker of the House on the Fox News Channel show Hannity, stating that Gingrich was a victim of gotcha journalism and that his apology was forced by the "lamestream media".[21][22] Gingrich later said on CBS News's Face the Nation that he was not referring to Ryan but to a general principle "that neither party should impose on the American people something that they are deeply opposed to."[23]

Debt to Tiffany & Co.

On May 17, 2011, Politico reported that Gingrich may have owed Tiffany & Co. as much as $500,000.[24] Tiffany's spokesperson Carson Glover stated on May 24 that Gingrich currently has a zero balance with the company, and that "all payments were made in a timely manner".[25] The New York Times described his revolving line of credit with the jewelry company as one of "the long list of rich-guy foibles that turned into defining campaign moments".[26]

Gingrich was given a shower of glitter as a protest by a gay activist in May. He told Gingrich, "Feel the rainbow, Newt! Stop the hate! Stop anti-gay politics!". The incident was aimed at Gingrich for his involvement with the Minnesota Family Council.[27]

Staff resignations

On June 9, 2011, Gingrich's campaign manager, his press secretary, and senior aides in early primary states had resigned from his campaign en masse, leading to questions about the viability of the campaign.[28] One of the aides who resigned cited differences in vision between the candidate and the staff.[29] The New York Times cited aides complaining of the influence of Gingrich's wife, Callista Gingrich, on the campaign, the candidate's unwillingness to devote more time to campaigning in early primary states, and recent spending on a chartered jet despite fundraising troubles.[30] Fox News also reported that staff had argued with Gingrich over a luxury cruise in the Balkans, Greece and Turkey he took with his wife just before the resignations.[28] ABC News printed a report claiming that his charity, "Renewing American Leadership", was making payments to for-profit businesses he also ran.[31] Gingrich flatly put down the smears, saying, "It’s just a falsehood. Patently false. Period." By late June 2011, the campaign was rumored to be $1 million in debt.[32] Two of the aides had previously worked for Rick Perry, who is running for president. Gingrich vowed on his Facebook page the same day to begin his campaign "anew".[30] He compared himself to Ronald Reagan and John McCain, who experienced large staff resignations during their presidential runs.[33] Gingrich continued to campaign on a promise of restoring competitiveness to the United States, promising to eliminate the capital gains tax and slash corporate taxes.[34] Gingrich took a liking to the Six Sigma business management model, and said it should be integrated into the United States government.[35]

Revival

Gingrich did not purchase a booth or speaking slot at the Ames poll. Here he is with a crowd of voters.

Gingrich changed direction on campaign spending, and began using commercial flights and recruited professional volunteers to save money. By July 2011, he announced that he had raised $2 million in the past 3 months and was on-track to paying back his campaign debts.[36] Gingrich said the hardest aspect of his campaign was fundraising, as the media had detracted potential donors through stories saying he was not a serious candidate[37] He underscored the size and scope of his fundraising outreach, saying, "It’s September and I’m here. Every day that goes by we’re fundraising. We will be on the road 24 days this month,” he said. “I will be in 50 states. This campaign is fully underway."[37] On the campaign trail, voters complimented his "intellectualism" and called him a "man of ideas".[38] Gingrich approached his political campaign based on a model from Walmart and McDonalds, saying that instead of carving a niche for himself from among his fellow Republican contenders, he would court nontraditional interest groups for the GOP, including Asian Americans and Latinos.[39] Gingrich was one of several candidates, including Mitt Romney, who did not contest the 2011 Ames Straw Poll. Gingrich did not purchase a booth or speaking slot at the Ames poll, and made no serious effort to win the Ames poll. He finished 8th out of 10 candidates listed.[40]

Gingrich put effort into his Internet social networking, and developed a strong following on Facebook and Twitter. He also held a handful of video "hangouts" where he would have webcam discussions with potential voters.[41] Politico found his Twitter account impressive, and wrote a positive article on how his Twitter account had developed to 1.3 followers from its start in 2009. Gingrich posted 2 or 3 tweets per day, and included science and history in addition to political topics.[42] The next day, an anonymous former staffmember who had left the Gingrich campaign said that about 80% of the followers were inactive or invalid accounts, and that the campaign paid an Internet service to add followers.[43] Gingrich's spokesman confronted the allegations as false and said his inclusion to the Suggested User List was "responsible for a large, but indeterminable amount of followers."[44] ABC News identified two other "Suggested" users, Gavin Newsom with 1.3 million, and John McCain with 1.7 million followers, suggesting it was not an anomaly.[41]

Debates and polling

The Washington Post reported that Gingrich had a "solid performance" at the fifth Republican debate in Tampa, Florida.[45] A CNN/ORC International poll released shortly after the sixth Republican debate in Orlando, Florida had Gingrich in third behind Perry and Romney.[46] His former rival, Bill Clinton, suggested it was possible for Gingrich to pull off the same success that McCain had in 2008, saying, "The one thing that makes it very hard to count him out is he’s always thinking. He’s always got a bunch of new ideas and some of them are pretty good."[47] Gingrich increased his fundraising after consistently performing well in the Republican debates. Pollster Kellyanne Conway, who worked for Gingrich's American Solutions, reviewed his debate performances and said his focus and ability to stay on-point during the discussions helped him enormously, as compared to past speeches where he would entertain many different topics.[48] In September 2011, he was able to increase his ground operations in Iowa, South Carolina, and New Hampshire. Tea Party founder Judson Phillips endorsed Newt, praising his "presidential" appearances at the debates.[49] Gingrich personally was in-favor of having unmoderated debates, and advocated for a series of Lincoln-Douglas style forums, which he believed would produce a better "adult Conversation with the American people." He explained, "It's difficult to get past the elite media's passion for trivia. It's difficult to deal with presidential debates that say, in 30 seconds, 'What's your position on balancing the budget?' You know, I don't think we're geared, outside maybe of C-SPAN, to the kind of conversations that we really need in order for the country to make decisions that are really very fundamental."[50]

Gingrich in November 2011. His book signings raised concern that his campaign was not fully intentioned to win the nomination

Gingrich introduced a new "Contract with America" that he said would be "much bigger and much bolder" than his original 1994 Contract.[51] Among his proposals would be a Balanced Budget Amendment, a strong training program for new hires in his administration, an individualized learning program for American students, and the signing of 50-100 executive orders beginning on his first day as president.[52] He also proposed the building of a fence on the U.S.-Mexican border by Jan. 1, 2014, telling a Tea Party audience it was long overdue, "We won the entire second World War in 44 months, and now in 25 years we can’t control the border when the entire Texas side of the border is a river."[53] He emphasized the balance of powers between the executive, judicial, and legislative branches, and proposed an elimination of policy czars and the reduction of power for the judiciary. Gingrich said the United States faced "an increasingly arrogant judiciary" and argued that the Federalist Papers had established the judiciary as the "weakest of the three branches".[54] Gingrich promoted a reduction in the size of the federal government, pushing for the states' rights authorized by the 10th Amendment.[53] Certain federal agencies, including the Department of Education, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Department of Homeland Security would be reduced or eliminated entirely, and federal programs such as student loans would be done by private companies instead of the government. He believes the EPA should be eliminated and replaced by a smaller agency which would be more aggressive in getting companies to use new science and technology to help the environment.[55] He opposed carbon pricing, which was especially unpopular among conservatives, saying it was an overreach of the EPA's authority. He said the EPA, which was founded in 1970 by Richard Nixon, a Republican, began on good conservative principles but has become too bureaucratic and litigation-focused to be successfully innovative. In particular, he is an advocate for nuclear power, and wants government regulations rewritten from an "outdated" model based on large complex nuclear plants so they take into consideration the systems inside smaller nuclear power plants.[56]

Top tier candidate

In November 2011, Gingrich began to poll in third, behind Mitt Romney and Herman Cain, who ran neck-and-neck, but ahead of Rick Perry, whose debate performances had cost him many supporters. On November 10, 2011, a independent PAC, Solutions 2012, was started to raise money for Gingrich. It is not bound by FEC donor limits and allowed him to gain large donations previously held back after his own 527 group, American Solutions, closed down in August.[57] At a debate, he was asked a question on his past contract with Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, as he was paid $300,000 by the company in 2006.[58] Gingrich said he did no lobbying for the company, which was then under scrutiny by President Bush, Alan Greenspan, and Republicans in Congress to cease granting mortgages to deadbeats with absolutely no hope of paying for them. Gingrich said the company approached him and said, “we are now making loans to people that have no credit history and have no record of paying back anything, but that’s what the government wants us to do.” He said his advice was to tell them, “this is insane.”[59] At the time, Freddie Mac had paid over 52 congressmen for lobbying efforts against the Republicans, and improved its image by publicizing its "homeowner counseling" programs.[60][61] Gingrich attended an event celebrating an expansion of a Freddie Mac housing complex and said, "To help people achieve the American dream of homeownership, we need to prepare people to handle the enormous responsibility of owning their own home. I commend Cobb Housing and the Fannie Mae Foundation for enhancing housing counseling programs that can better prepare families for this responsibility."[62] Gingrich's campaign defended its work with Freddie Mac, offering a statement saying he advised the company on how to lower its health costs and told them that the lending practices were not sustainable. In his statement, he said Freddie Mac was highly interested in reaching out to more Republicans, and his response was that they should be open to reforming their lending practices. He also said that his contract was written with a clause saying that he would not do any lobbying.[63] Bloomberg News revealed that his relationship with Freddy Mac extended far earlier, and that he worked in a previous contract from 1999 to 2002 for consulting. He was asked for strategic advice that would make their program more appealing to conservatives. According to discussions Gingrich had with the company, he advised them that their efforts at home ownership would be appealing to minorities, particularly Hispanics, and would make for good politics in the Republican Party.[64] He also advised them to start initiatives with the Boy Scouts of America and educate youth on the importance of financial education and home ownership, but the company did not do so.[65] It was revealed that he was paid in the area of $1.6 and 1.8 million for his consulting work.[66] During his presidential campaign, Gingrich said he could not recall many of the details of his conversations with Freddy Mac executives, but reiterated that he did no lobbying for them and would be willing to publicly release his contracts "as much as legally possible."

On November 17, 2011 the Washington Post reported that the Center for Health Transformation, a private, for-profit think tank founded by Gingrich in 2003, made at least $37 millions of dollars over 8 years by billing health care companies and industry groups who as members paid up to $200,000 annual fees.[67] Although lobbying activity is denied, the Center offers on its website being able to bridge the link to government agencies and offering a "network of allies" within the Federal and State governments, further, special access to Gingrich was offered in its materials.[67]

Endorsements

Gingrich has received endorsements from:

See also

  • Political positions of Newt Gingrich

References

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