I’m a huge Newt fan. I like his ideas, his knowledge of history, his ability to think outside the box, his capability of articulating his ideas, thoughts, and knowledge of history, and the fact that he has a set of cojones and a spine.
I think Newt’s surge in November / December 2011 was because of two things. The first was obviously his performances in the debates. He didn’t spend any time attacking anyone but Obama and the media, and the ideas he presented were for the most part interesting and delivered with passion. The second thing, however, that I think really changed things was his appearance on Center Seat when he got a chance to clear the air and answer the ‘buts’. I think that at the time, a lot of people were looking at Newt and thinking and saying to themselves: “Yeah, he’s a great candidate with great ideas, but…”. In that interview he answered the Nancy Pelosi couch thing, the individual mandate thing, the ‘Right Wing Social Engineering’ thing, and maybe a few others that I can’t remember off the top of my head.
The new charge that he hasn’t put to bed as well as he should have is that he was a Lobbyist or an ‘influence peddler’. I thought he dealt with part of it well enough by mentioning his contracts and how they specifically said no lobbying and also describing his pay versus the gross revenue. This obviously wasn’t enough. People are framing this issue for him, and he needs to frame it himself, and the sooner the better.
If I were Newt or I had a direct line to Newt, I’d recommend he give a speech that clears the air and addresses the following in detail:
- What he specifically did as a consultant and what he did not do.
- Define specifically what “strategic advice” is, what “lobbying” is, and what “influence peddling” is. Make contrasts between the three. If he does define and contrast this, Romney’s guys will happily do it for him.
- Specifically, what he did for Freddie Mac.
- Also, what he did for other companies as well. Give as many examples as possible.
- What is the role of a GSE? When are GSE’s good? When are GSE’s bad?
- Same thing about public/private partnerships.
- In one of the debates, he defended the concept of a GSE. I think there’s a growing fear that Newt’s answer to everything is a public/private partnership or a GSE–when a private-only solution may be called for.
- What is the role of the federal government in housing? Education? Health Care?
- Somewhere in there, I’d like him to address how he expects to get these big changes done. I think I know the answer to those one, but I think Newt should clarify this and be extremely positive. I believe pretty much all the candidates have the same end goal, but I think Newt’s idea of how you get there is the best.
- My understanding is that Newt is for getting as much as we can get within the public trust and understanding–and educating the public and framing the debate along the way so you get more understanding and more trust. There’s a great article by Dan McLaughlin that explains this pretty well: http://www.redstate.com/dan_mclaughlin/2011/12/14/taking-newt-gingrichs-ideas-seriously/
- Doing everything as a series of small bills vs a large “comprehensive” package.
- Talk about “inclusion” vs “outreach”.
- I think this will explain a lot of things. For instance, the Sharpton / Gingrich / and Duncan bus tour, why Newt advised Freddie Mac, why Newt got on the couch with Pelosi, the “right wing social engineering” comment — and also why Newt advocates different policies than those.
- Perhaps somewhere in there, he will address what he meant by FDR being the “greatest” president in the 20th century–rather than Reagan or Coolidge or some other conservative president.
That sounds like a tall order, but it’s mainly 3 big prongs. First, address the consulting / strategic advice. Second, define the role of GSEs and public/private partnerships and the specific circumstances that call for those rather than a private-only–government completely out of the way solution. Third, address his vision of what the country could look like in 10 or 20 years and how we could get there (specifically strategy for bringing about massive change). This has the possibility of being a speech that will transform everything and including the way people think about things.
In my opinion, if Newt can pull this off, he’ll pretty much seal the nomination.