Newt Gingrich, Or: How I Learned To Start Worrying About American Politics

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At the time of writing this I’m sitting watching James Bond, Casino Royale in case your interested, whilst drinking a great cup of tea, so at this point, aside from being Hugh Grant, I’m being about as English as possible. And even sitting here in the middle of my comfortable English home, I’m worried … on the verge of weeping actually, the thought causing these ill feelings is that Newt Gingrich suddenly looks like the man most likely to face Barack Obama in the General Election later this year.

Honestly, Newt must’ve been Tebowing (see last week’s article) and Tebowing a lot! It’s the only reasonable explanation for what has been a frankly remarkable turnaround. Until last week Mitt Romney looked a shoo-in for the nomination, he looked set to complete a clean slate of wins in the first three primaries, now he’s just got the solitary win in New Hampshire of which he was always going to win anyway. While of course ol’Mitt is probably weeping quietly somewhere, (we could weep together? maybe?), it turns out that the South Carolina result was most wildly celebrated in the oval office as opposed to anyway actually near South Carolina. The result coupled with the Iowa Caucus overturn has significantly weakened Mitt Romney’s challenge for the nomination, and has also significantly weakened the GOP’s chances of winning back the presidency. The Democrats cannot believe their luck, and as the Republican in-fighting continues, the worst man has moved to the front of the queue.

The debate last monday evening was the beginning of the ‘Gingrich surge’, this debate by the way was the 16th debate! The 16th! Apparently Mitt has been most displeased with the frequency of the debates and I do agree, 16 debates really?! Anyway it was this debate that the wily ol’ Texan Rick Perry asked ol’Mitt to release his tax returns, which have now been released at a bit of a measly 15% tax, it had then emerged the Romney had lost to Santorum in Iowa, then Rick Perry realised who he was and dropped out and endorsed Newt, and Sarah Palin somehow managed to get past security to endorse him as well! In the end of course as everyone knows, Newt won SC by a giant 12%.

Although many thought, I was hoping, the Newt train would be derailed before the voting began, it  didn’t happen, although as I said many thought it would, and here’s why: – Newt’s second wife, you know the wife he left to go marry another woman whom he had been having an affair with while being indicted for ethics breaches as the Speaker of the House, while bitching at Clinton for having an affair, Yes that second wife, was giving an interview on how he had supposedly asked her for an open marriage so he could continue his affair with his soon to be third wife… yeah just give it a second for the classiness to waft over you.. And I’ll continue, while this looks like a train wreck of a situation nothing really came out of it, Newt didn’t dip in the polls and comfortably won days later.

**He was asked about all this in a debate, in fact I believe it was the first question of the debate, and he went freakin’ nuts, youtube it!

The problem is that when the topic was raised in the debate, Newt shouted it down calling it ‘despicable’ and that’s not even the problem, the problem is that the crowd stood and applauded his rude response, applauded, why? The Republican supporters sitting in the audience supposedly represent the moral side of America, they pride themselves, most of them, on their moral and religious values, and yet stand and applaud and even worse, vote for the man, while the ‘open marriage story’ may not be true, they vote for a man who left his first wife to marry his mistress, while his first wife was undergoing cancer treatment, and then left his second wife to marry his next mistress, as well as being the only Speaker of the House to be impeached in front of congress.. I mean what are these people applauding? They’re applauding the direct contradiction of their own beliefs and want this man as President!

He’s also promised Sarah Palin a ‘major role’ in the next administration, and if all of this before was not enough of a reason to not vote him, this last part definitely is!

Newt needs some ‘Tebow Time’!

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Well, it would be an understatement to say that it’s been a bit of a tumultuous week! Not only have we had two GOP casualties with John Huntsman inevitably pulling out but also just as inevitably, Rick Perry has decided to go as well! While Huntsman’s exit was to be expected, Rick Perry’s was slightly less so, I mean yes he’s been polling at a pretty crappy 5% in just about every state since Iowa but he was a resilient Texan! So not only has it been a bad week for the GOP HQ who have seen two other people who aren’t Mitt Romney drop out, but also the Denver Broncos lost on Sunday night, what? I like American football! So that means no more Tebow Time, what? I’m not the only person who likes Tim Tebow?

Oh and in case you don’t know who Tim Tebow is, that probably applies to most of us in the UK, he is the Quarter back for the Denver Broncos and he’s been causing quite a stir in the sporting world. Basically during the American football season when the Broncos have been losing, he has inspired some great comebacks to win the game, after he throws the winning touchdown he prays on the field, no seriously, and it’s turned into a bit of a phenomenon, google Tebowing!

Anyway back to the politics, if there was one man in need of some Tebow inspired ‘divine intervention’ it’s Newt Gingrich. He, like many others, have stated that if ol’ Mitt wins the South Carolina Primary on Saturday then the race is effectively over. Which is probably very true, Mitt’s running away with it in the Florida polls at the minute, but that isn’t really the case in South Carolina anymore…

It’s remarkable really, Mitt was streets ahead of everyone in South Carolina about a week ago, however a few things have changed since then. Essentially Mitt Romney has served a punching bag over the past week taking hits from just about everyone, the main attacker has of course been Newt Gingrich, with the former Speaker of the House investing in excess of $3.3 million of campaign ads over South Carolina’s airwaves. The most notable, a now infamous 27-minute documentary entitled ‘When Mitt Romney came to town’, I thought it was a new romantic comedy starring everyone’s favourite mormon, but in fact it was about Mitt’s 15 year tenure as head of Bain Capital featuring endless interviews of people who had lost their jobs and homes when the companies they worked for were taken over by Bain and closed. Another bizarre advert from Newt Gingrich productions slated Mitt for lying and for speaking French. Yeah apparently your not allowed to speak more than one language if your running for President, no wonder John Huntsman never had a chance!

While the ‘French attack’ will go down in history for being the most ‘bizarre political advert ever’, Newt’s 27 minute Mitt flick back fired slightly, it seems just about everyone rounded on Newt’s ill conceived ‘documentary’ accusing him of being ‘ignorant’ and ‘dumb’, although it seems Sarah Palin thought that it was ok, but that’s not good for anyone. And while many thought that Newt’s popularity might wain, it has in fact done the opposite in the past few days, he’s surged in the polls, and even more so in the past 12 hours when it was revealed that former Texas governor Rick Perry was pulling out, only to then proclaim his love for Newt! The forgetful governor’s endorsement may not seem much, but his 5% of conservative support could make South Carolina a very tight race.

Yet more bad news for Mitt Romney, I’m starting to genuinely feel sorry for him, it looks like the Iowa Caucus result is to be overturned, although not officially until tomorrow, it looks like ol’ ‘sweater vest’ Rick Santorum has won by 37 votes, instead of the 7 votes Mitt won with originally. Just craziness. But not the sort of craziness Mitt Romney needs two days before the primary, if he loses in South Carolina then the race could be blown wide open, with his solitary win in New Hampshire, a state he was always going to win, it’s not looking like Mitt’s for the taking anymore…

An odd but fortuitous turn of events for Newt Gingrich, he must be Tebowing somewhere!

The last Mitt standing…

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Now if anyone saw my post last week, eloquently titled ‘Could Huntsman pull a Santorum?’ I predicted that John Huntsman’s popularity would surge as have the other GOP candidates at some time or another, and what do you know? He DID surge in New Hampshire! Some of the cynics out there will deny me of my ‘future predicting skills’ by saying that he has been building foundations there for months, some will say ‘He even skipped Iowa to concentrate on New Hampshire’, but I still contend that his surge is evidence of me being able to predict the future, which reminds me, if you want your future predicting, I suggest you donate money to me, I’m not quite sure how, but start stuffing coins into your USB ports now!

Anyway back to the politics, as you all will know the results from New Hampshire are in! Mitt of course, as strongly predicted, won by a frankly huge margin; he was a whole 16.5% ahead of an impressively second placed Ron Paul, with John Huntsman again very impressively coming in third with Newt & the two Ricks in pursuit. You would think that Mitt would be happy, well he probably is, after all he has now won in both Iowa & New Hampshire, a feat only accomplished twice before in history! His victory in New Hampshire was by Rick Perry’s standards very smooth, despite a slight gaffe on Monday morning when he seemed to confess his guilty little secret that he enjoys firing people. However the fact that this didn’t derail his candidacy especially in this climate, just goes to show that he’s in fullcontrol of this race, we have a saying in the UK that if your football (soccer) team plays badly but still wins, you support a great team!

Understandably however, the rest of the GOP candidates were not so pleased with the New Hampshire result, which is probably why they are looking to unload everything on him in South Carolina, literally unloading campaign ads costing millions and millions of dollars in an effort to stop the Romney freight train. The problem for Mitt is that it could work, South Carolina is a completely different ball game to the liberal New Hampshire, in deeply conservative South Carolina it’s likely that Mitt’s mormonism will come up more than a few times, as well as other religious issues that Mitt has been accused to flip-flop on a few times, namely that controversial one, abortion.

And… cue Newt Gingrich, ol’ Newt and his backers have been the main culprits so far in terms of ‘attack ads’ in South Carolina, trying to remind everyone of Mitt Romney’s, frankly, sketchy history; he dramatically changed his stance on abortion in 2005, hence the ‘flip-flop’ image that has stuck with him ever since. As if this wasn’t enough, his rivals have been hammering him over his record at Bain Capital, where they say he laid off tens of thousands of workers in order to maximise profit. Even Rick Perry (remember him?) has been getting in on the action calling Mitt a ‘vulture capitalist’, this portrayal of him as a ruthless capitalist could be dangerous in a state like South Carolina where the unemployment rate is almost double that of New Hampshire & Iowa, and also double the national average.

Rick Santorum’s ultra conservative image didn’t play well in New Hampshire, but is likely to play very well in South Carolina and with his already large endorsement from a prominent Christian evangelical he stands a very good chance. John Huntsman’s chances on the other hand are a mystery, the most moderate of all the candidates would have loved a second place finish in New Hampshire, but he’ll struggle to get past 5% in South Carolina.

In the past couple of days ol’ Mitt seems to have moved his focus onto challenging President Obama, it may be too soon though, South Carolina is going to be a dirty fight…

Could Huntsman pull a ‘Santorum’…?

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So as the results flooded in from Iowa, everyone including myself was biting their nails anxiously as the three horse race faded into a two horse race eventually split by 8 votes! The tightest of margins in a state where 122,000 Iowa Republicans cast their votes, the largest turnout ever, hooray for democracy!

While Mitt Romney will be understandably pleased at having the prestige of winning, as opposed to his sour ‘silver medal’ last time around, commentators were quick to point out that it was no real victory. He may have won the caucus, but Rick Santorum was the real winner. With Mitt pouring at least $4 million into Iowa he finished with 25% of the vote, Santorum on the other hand spent a pittance in comparison and came from seemingly nowhere to almost steal a victory. 

In a startling comparison Mitt’s campaign spent on average $156 per vote, while Santorum spent a mere $21 and got a lot more value for money. However the money probably doesn’t mean that much to Romney what with his riches, the thought that may keep him up at night is that 75% of the voters avoided Romney completely…

Now as we turn from Iowa to New Hampshire, there was something missing from Iowa, something I couldn’t put my finger on and then I remembered! Iowa was missing an entire person, oh and his campaign, John Huntsman!

His decision to skip Iowa altogether has been met with a degree of skepticism as well as admiration, for a man who never really had a chance in Iowa it surely makes sense for him to build a strong foundation in a state like New Hampshire where he stands a much greater chance of doing well. 

Ron Paul, or his twitter account at least, decided to take a shot at Jon Huntsman in a delightfully funny post; – 

@jonhuntsman we found your one Iowa voter, he’s in Linn precinct 5 you might want to call him and say thanks,”

Great stuff from Ron Paul, although he might not be laughing too long. It’s argued that Rick Santorum’s late surge was the result of the ‘undecideds’ who were suddenly swayed in his direction, many of these swing voters didn’t like Mitt Romney or Ron Paul and found a comfortable conservative christian alternative in Rick Santorum. My argument is that Jon Huntsman could pull a ‘Rick Santorum’ in New Hampshire, his supposed ‘liberalism’ will play much better there, and his strong foundation which already gives him 10% could create a surge as once again GOP voters look for the alternative to Mitt Romney. 

By the sounds of it, Huntsman is confident about his chances; “I feel pretty good about having come from the margin of error. We came into this state as a complete asterisk, at zero, and now we’re bumping into the teens,” Huntsman said. “And with the unpredictable nature of the race so far, I think we are positioned pretty well.”

“That’s about to change in about 48 hours, and then the big bright light is going to be here on New Hampshire,” Huntsman said. “And in true fashion, New Hampshire always tends to upend conventional wisdom.”

Whether Huntsman can make a mark in New Hampshire remains to be seen, but certainly he is due a surge some time or another and if he’s a praying man he should get going now. Mitt Romney on the other hand is polling a superb 43% which is more than enough to put him over the top, Ron Paul? Well he made fade out or it may just be getting going, who knows? One thing the candidates can be sure of is that Newt Gingrich is angry, and he’ll be psyched up for New Hampshire, if that’s something no one wants, it’s an angry Newt Gingrich. 

On your marks, get set… IOWA!

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Firstly, before I go any further I must apologise for the title of this post, because frankly it’s bloody awful, but it’s been about two weeks since my last entry so I’m feeling a bit dry. Anyway I hope everyone had a merry Christmas and a happy new year! And even if you didn’t have either of those, I think we all know that Ron Paul did!

Now my mother always told me never to trust a man with two first names, but there is something quite likeable about Ron Paul, and I admit that I quite admire him as well; he has shown steady growth over the festive period and in most polls he seems to be sitting comfortably in second place. His superb early organisation in Iowa has harvested his growth, and he also possesses a large amount of frighteningly passionate volunteers who I think would literally jump in front of an unconstitutional bus for him!

With less than 12 hours, UK time (sorry guys.), until the ‘caucusgoers’ get voting the latest polls put Mitt Romney with 23%, RP at 22% and Rick Santorum at a decent 18%, another admirable feat for a man who has been largely ignored by just about everyone until about last friday. While Michele Bachmann, Rick Perry and Newt Gingrich seem to have disappeared down the caucus plug hole, hallelujah! You can’t count them out overall, especially Gingrich, who unfortunately seems to still be in with a fairly good chance in the long run. Many argue that his surge came slightly too early, and his lack of organisation never gave him a real chance of winning ,however many potential voters earmarked Gingrich as the most ‘knowledgeable’ candidate which could put him in good stead to face Obama next year.

While the Iowa caucus seems as though it could go either way, the New Hampshire Primary could not be anymore different, with ol’ Mitt streets ahead. Romney, who started the campaign as the frontrunner has defied many critics by seeing off Michele Bachmann who rose and then not so triumphantly fell, Rick Perry who ‘ummm….d’ his way to the bottom and of course the future Times ‘Man of Year’ Herman Cain. The most remarkable thing about Mitt’s campaign so far is that he has managed to stay ahead despite the best efforts of his own party who seem reluctant to support him, many in his party claim that he is not a ‘true conservative’ and that he has consistently flip-flopped on various ideological issues in order to win votes. Gingrich labelled him a ‘Massachusetts Moderate’ while Rick Santorum claimed that he ‘ran as a liberal in order to get elected’. While this could possibly be looked upon as candidates undermining each other, the main problem for the GOP will be that if Mitt wins the nomination, the democrats will have a lot of ammunition that could easily take ol’Mitt apart…

The main cruise missile in the Democrat’s arsenal will be Romney’s tenure as governor of Massachusetts, although he is remembered for being a pragmatic and effective governor, he successfully overhauled the state’s broken healthcare system, which sounds like a bloody good thing, though not if your a republican apparently. Mitt’s criticisms of Obama’s healthcare reforms were met with accusations of hypocrisy, which in parts are very similar to his own reforms as governor, and unfortunately this doesn’t set him well for what could be a very difficult campaign for him and the Republicans.

Anyway back to the caucus! If ol’Mitt wins I’ll be pleased for him! If Ron Paul wins, well I won’t really care but I’d be a bit worried! If Rick Santorum wins I’ll be surprised! If Newt Gingrich wins, well I worry for humanity…