Full disclosure: The author is a Mitt Romney 2008 (and current) supporter ready and willing to switch to Newt if he ever gets his act together.
An open letter to Newt Gingrich:
Dear Mr. Speaker:
I’ll cut to the chase. You need help now. Yes, you were victimized by some unfair ads. And yes, what you’re doing with Bain Capital and the other nonsense isn’t working.
But there IS a way to bring Mitt down to his knees. And I’m not talking about bringing him down into the low 20s, but I mean actually breaking his campaign. And it isn’t a theory. This can actually work, because it’s already worked this year and it took out Governor Perry. Oh, and don’t forget about the one silver lining of being in this deep a pickle is that you can now afford to take all sorts of unconventional risks.
Accept a few premises:
1. You can’t do it alone. You’re going to need help. The only one I see out there that would be both able and willing to help you on this is Rick Santorum. He seems to have a decent amount of respect for you going back to the GOPAC days of the early 1990s. I’d suggest you pick up the phone and call him tomorrow. If you have to offer him the VP slot if you get the nomination, do it. You’re WAAAY past the “Panic Button” stages anyways.
2. The only way you’re going to be able to recover is at the debates. You don’t have the money for enough TV ads anyways.
3. At this point, you’re going to have to take some serious chances, even if it somewhat damages your prospects for the general election. There’s time enough to clean that up after you’re the presumptive nominee.
4. Your only way out of this mess is to challenge Mitt from the Right. I’m sure you’ve picked up on this by now, given how much you’ve been beaten up on talk radio today, and I noticed you made a major point to emphasize your love of the free enterprise system during your speech tonight.
5. Challenging him from the Right isn’t enough. You need to find an issue that has sufficient juice, stake out a position to the Right of Romney (even if it’s far-right), successfully bait Mr. Romney into responding (and more importantly) defending his position from the Left. If (and it’s a tall order, but it IS possible) you can pull all those items off, you can drive Romney into the low teens and eventually, single digits.
6. Look at the debate that brought Perry down. He was challenged by Mitt from the Left on Social Security. (Sound familiar?) it made little impact among the GOP Primary electorate. He was then challenged by Bachmann on the HPV vaccination policy in Texas and went nowhere. But then something very interesting happened.
7. Later on, Bachmann switched gears and attacked Perry on the issue of in-state tuition for illegal immigrant children in Texas. Romney only mildly went along. Gov. Perry at first took the calm approach, arguing that even Republicans in the Texas Legislature thought it was a good idea. But then Rick Santorum jumped in and reinforced the point and made it clear that nobody was saying that illegal immigrant children shouldn’t go to college, just that they should take out larger loans and pay out-of-state tuition. Fortunately for the rest of the field, Perry got so tired and exasperated of the argument, that he fell back to the main liberal argument that it would be “heartless” to deny those children out-of-state tuition. Game. Set. Match. Perry instantly crashed in the polls and never recovered. Go back to the tape of that debate. Look at the polls afterwards. You can see a direct and unquestioned correlation from that debate and Perry’s immediate decline.
8. So how to capitalize (no pun)? Never forget that your strongest applause line is when you demand that new immigrants take a test for American history in English. Think about that. For all the ideas on issues you crank out, that one always draws the strongest support. Illegal immigration (and more importantly, being on the wrong side of that issue) in a Republican primary can destroy even the strongest candidates. Here’s what you need to do. Call Rick. Ask him if he’ll join you in reinforcing a line of attack on illegal immigration against Romney. I think he’ll agree to help. Next, dig long and dig hard at Romney’s years in Massachusetts. I believe Boston was a sanctuary city. Did Romney do anything to stop that? I believe not. Check and see if there were any conservatives in the Mass. Legislature that brought up any anti-illegal immigration legislation, and see if the Romney Administration did anything to help support it. I believe not. It really doesn’t matter. Even if you have to change YOUR position and move even further to the Right on immigration, do it. Demand “English-only” on all immigrant issues. Insist on signing an Executive Order for a fence on Day 1. I really don’t care – just make sure you can stake out a position (which Santorum is willing to also support) on immigration that you just KNOW Romney can’t back. (After all, Mitt is going to start believing he’s the nominee now and is going to start getting guarded about going too far Right on ANYTHING. Exploit this.)
9. Bait him. You know the moderators are going to open the debate again with “Explain why Romney is unelectable.” Respond with “On paper, Gov. Romney does seem the most electable. On all the typical qualities – raising money, presents himself well, doesn’t take too many risks – he does well. But when you really think about it, the real test of electability is his willingness to take truly conservative positions, even when it’s not popular. Or will he cut and run or agree with Obama?” Lay the groundwork there. Later on say something like “On immigration, I believe we need to do <insert somewhat “extreme” immigration position here> and he neglected to bring the fight on this issue in Massachusetts and he still refuses to say whether he’d agrees with that position.” Have Rick join in. At first, Romney will simply re-iterate his existing position. But keep pounding away on this relentlessly. Eventually, even the moderators will confront Romney on it, and he will do what he always does, and get extra-cautious thinking about the general election, and will almost certainly bring up a Leftist defense for not going any further to the right on immigration than his existing position.
And once that happens, Mr. Speaker, you and Rick Santorum will be able to compete with each other. It’s always good to have a political future beyond South Carolina and Florida.
A Concerned American