So you're sayin' there's a chance!
Newt Gingrich is, anyway. After months and months of flirting with the idea of joining the Republican fray, the former Georgia congressman put a little more motion in that notion yesterday, telling journalists he would enter the race if supporters would pledge $30 million to his campaign in the next three weeks.
Close followers of the 3Q storyline might find my reaction to this news predictable. I'm psyched. It isn't necessarily the substance of a new candidate into the already crowded field (my apologies, by the way, for not giving more ink to Keyes' entry), but rather the style.
Ever since last spring Gingrich has flirted with his candidacy, but only in the instance of a "vacuum" in the GOP field, in terms of having someone with the policy chops to take on Hillary Clinton in the general. Vacuum, for those of you following along at home, means "a volume of space that is essentially empty of matter."
So what are you saying, Newt? That nothing coming out of Rudy, Mitt or Fred's mouth matters? Looks like it to me. For the record, Gingrich doesn't give John McCain a chance at the nomination.
Maybe the last straw was the GOP frontrunners' collective decision to skip out on the latest African-American debate, which Newt called a mistake bred from lack of nerve. Regardless, Gingrich has been critical all along. And you know we love criticism here, when it comes from the mouths of competitors.
Back in July, Newt likened himself to Charles De Gaulle relative to the current Republican crop of "pygmies" in an interview. He went on to dis the nouveau chic debate formats, saying they force statesmen to "shrink to the level of 40-second answers, standing like a trained seal, waiting for someone to throw me a fish."
While just yesterday he kept up the offensive. He simultaneously mocked the field as "penguins" as threw out the idea of RNC forums entirely claiming, "if I did run, I wouldn’t do any dog and pony shows. I’d debate anybody who wants for 90 minutes — one-on-one, for 90 minutes, in either party."
Now that's balls and principle. Straight up.
All along Gingrich has been, arrogantly or not, positioning himself as the pedestaled savior of the Republican party, if not the country. He has been busy at the typewriter, penning two books scheduled for release before the primary season including one on conservative environmentalism called A Contract with the Earth. Gingrich also just unleashed what he calls a "solutions lab" conveniently named American Solutions. Newt, if you believe him, is the wise and functional leader who can guide America to it's brightest future.
He is also casting himself as Presidential. Newt has already debated the Dems' previous nominee, Sen. John Kerry, one-on-one this past spring. He is also ordaining Hillary Clinton as the inevitable Democrat and implying he is the best suited to take her on in the real debates. Many pundits call Newt too divisive, but he sees the division in another frame: there are Clinton haters who will lose to her, and there are Clinton haters who will take it to her.
Republican voters fear a lot of things, most notably taxes, terrorists and gays. Whether or not they pony up 30 mil to get Newt in the race depends on whether or not they truly fear Hillary Clinton. They also believe in a lot of things, most notably God, guns, and gas guzzlers. The ultimate question for Gingrich, if they do fear Hillary, is whether they believe that Newt is the best Clinton fighter they got. We'll find out in three weeks.
I hope he enters if for no other reason than I want to see him happy. According to Newt's facebook profile, "I am happiest in zoos. On a visit to Zoo Atlanta in September 1997, I got to hold this baby lion. Unfortunately, they wouldn't let me take him home with me."
If Newt really is happiest in zoos, perhaps the presidential race is the best place for him.
Check out cnn.com for a solid rundown of Newt's recent forays into the political discussion.
While we are considering hypotheticals, I just want to throw out my fantasy forums all-star ticket. Before you accuse me of losing my objectivity, keep in mind this is strictly from a discussion/debate standpoint. Discuss amongst yourselves in the comments section.
Gore/Biden vs. Gingrich/Giuliani
Witness a real wonky solutions debate at the top of the ticket between the two smartest men in the room and a knock-down, drag-out foreign relations deathmatch in the veep debate. Oh man, I'm getting chills just thinking about it.