Newt Gingrich: Talking Head or the Smartest Man in the Race? (What Have You Done For Me Lately?)

There’s been a lot of discussion during this primary season about the candidates and their speeches, records, electability, baggage, and so on. Upon reading a comment today from a Romney shill (who was ceremonially banned for the third time) that Newt is nothing more than a “talking head,” I recalled the Speaker’s comments in a speech he gave the night before the Alabama primary last week. You can listen to Newt’s speech as well as Senator Santorum’s Speeches (Video playlist is linked on the right of the page.) Though a transcript of the speeches is not available, parts of both have been summarized in my previous diary and the comments thereto AL Forum.

However, the purpose of this diary is to directly refute the talking head comment. To do that, I went back and listened specifically to Newt’s response to the question from Bill Armistead, AL-GOP State Chairman, who asked him to explain to Alabamians why he is the most conservative candidate in the race who can win. Forgive the paraphrasing, but here’s the gist of Newt’s comments which start around the 1:19 minute mark in the video linked above.

Look at Romney’s ratings when he left MA. Look at Santorum’s defeat in PA. Contrast with my [Newt’s] record in the GOP. I helped create the GA GOP. I worked in the GA GOP when there was none. I ran for Congress and won in the middle of Watergate. I worked 16 years to help create a national majority for the GOP.

He went on to outline the following:

1980 – I helped design the first Capitol Steps event in history. We won 6 U.S. Senate seats by a combined margin of 75,000 votes. We won the Senate when nobody thought we could.

1984 – I helped design a campaign that set a record. We carried 49 states and picked up 33 House seats.

1988 – We were behind Dukakis 19 points in May. We designed a Reagan style campaign. We didn’t try to go to the middle. If George Bush had run as moderate, he’d have gotten beat. He ran as a Reagan conservative promising no new taxes and standing for national defense and attacking the Massachusetts liberalism of Dukakis. We switched 25% of the country. 1 in 4 voters during that campaign switched their view.

1994 – We designed and presented the Contract with America in a positive way to the American people. I would do the same this fall and offer paychecks rather than food stamps, the Constitution rather than Alinsky, $2.50 a gallon gas and drilling rather than algae. Real choices.

Since 1982, Speaker Gingrich has authored or co-authored 18 non-fiction books, 9 fiction books and produced 8 series and one film. His opponents like to point out that one of these, A Contract with the Earth, suggests that conservatives should embrace environmentalism, leaving one to assume that Newt himself embraced the liberal views of all things green. However, I recall that Newt pointed out in 2007 interview with salon.com (Interview):

One of the major reasons that Terry Maple and I wrote “A Contract With the Earth” was to reopen the debate, and to say that there are solutions which involve incentives, science and technology and markets. Entrepreneurs are potentially much more powerful and successful than regulatory and litigation solutions. We ought to be having a dialogue about which solution works better rather than being engaged in a purely partisan debate to see who can yell “anti-environmentalist” more.

It’s a fascinating interview which no doubt can be dissected down to Newt’s believes in global warming or remember Newt sat on a couch with Nancy for those who refuse to look at his entire record of achievements.

But back to the subject at hand, Newt’s accomplishments. Consider Newt’s other non-fiction books:

• The Government’s Role in Solving Societal Problems
• Window of Opportunity
• Contract with America (co-editor)
• Restoring the Dream
• Quotations from Speaker Newt
• To Renew America
• Lessons Learned The Hard Way
• Presidential Determination Regarding Certification of the Thirty-Two Major Illicit Narcotics Producing and Transit Countries
• Saving Lives and Saving Money
• Winning the Future
• Rediscovering God in America: Reflections on the Role of Faith in Our Nation’s History and Future
• The Art of Transformation
• A Contract with the Earth
• Real Change: From the World That Fails to the World That Works
• Drill Here, Drill Now, Pay Less: A Handbook for Slashing Gas Prices and Solving Our Energy Crisis
• 5 Principles for a Successful Life: From Our Family to Yours, with Jackie Gingrich Cushman
• To Save America: Stopping Obama’s Secular-Socialist Machine, with Joe DeSantis
• A Nation Like No Other: Why American Exceptionalism Matters

The vast majority, if not all, of Gingrich’s other books are textbook conservative. Read the reviews at amazon for yourself. Better yet, read the books.

After leaving Congress in 1999 (and yes, I know all about the “cloud” under which he left), Newt amassed a personal fortune writing books, giving speeches, and founding an empire of companies and nonprofits which he ultimately left in order to run for President. The cloud doesn’t appear to have been too big of an issue considering the invitations he received to speak and the number of groups which solicited his thoughts and advice on various matters.

From 2007 to 2011, Newt chaired the organization, American Solutions, which he founded for the purpose of engaging citizens and elected officials in a dialogue intended to propose solutions to problems affecting American society. It was one of the nation’s largest grassroots efforts with 3 main initiatives. “Drill Here. Drill Now. Pay Less.” “Jobs Here. Jobs Now. Jobs First.” and “No More Obamacare.” Sounds pretty conservative to me. And yes, I’m going to use Wikipedia as a source for a good summary of AmericanSolutions.

Since Speaker Gingrich threw his hat back into the proverbial political arena, he continues to articulate the 3 basic tenets of conservatism (fiscal, social and strong defense). He offers real and practical solutions to the problems we are facing as outlined at Newt’s Solutions.

This diary is not about Newt’s baggage, political or personal. You may not agree with his policies or solutions. You may abhor his failures. You may not like or support Newt. What I suggest you cannot do is ignore his accomplishments which is what this diary is all about. In that regard, please tell me what have you done for me, conservatism and the GOP lately? Better still, what has your candidate done lately or in the last 34 years like Newt?

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