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The secret lesson within Newt Gingrich's botched campaign launch

Newt Gingrich campaigns in Iowa 5-16-11

There's an important, hidden lesson in Newt Gingrich's presidential campaign kickoff for all the other Republican White House wannabes:

Take your time.

There's no rush.

It's only May.

Why set yourself up as a target any sooner than necessary? President Obama would be delighted to have Republicans fighting among themselves ASAP, so he can look calmer, more presidential by comparison, while his opponents try to prove their conservative bona fides to that raucous crowd on the right side.

Obama announced early to get going on his billion-dollar campaign fund, which is $255 million more than he needed last time as a nobody. A billion dollars is a really impressive number -- unless you're falling short, say, because of the economy or this time your less enthusiastic base is saying, "Yes, we won't."

Interestingly, only one month into his campaign Obama aides are already trying to walk back that billion-dollar boast and the first quarter's report, due out in early July, that was supposed to blow away everyone else's money haul.

The president will do two Boston fundraisers tonight after his ....

... commencement address to the Coast Guard Academy. And Joe "I Guarantee Democrats Will Keep Control of Congress" Biden will do a bunch more soon.

The media is in a desperate hurry to get out on their lucrative travel expense accounts on the easier-to-cover ongoing political horse races Mitt Romney solicits campaign contributions during his money bomb day 5-16-11 instead of these one-day, non-news, who's-decided-not-to-run GOP stories. Haley Barbour. Mike Huckabee. Donald Trump. Who won't run next -- Pat Sajak?

And who cares anyway? More than 310 million Americans won't be announcing they won't be running.

The Obama administration would love for the media to get out of Washington too.

Then they might stop writing these annoying economic/job/debt/poll stories that keep highlighting what hasn't happened under this president's promised bipartisanship, instead of the harmonious rainbow of prosperity that Obama foresees if only he has four more years.

But, hey, there are still 538 days before the 2012 presidential election. More than 455 until the Republican National Convention in Tampa.

And fully three months before that silly Ames Straw Poll that told us so presciently in 2007 that Mitt Romney would win the Iowa caucuses -- which, of course, he didn't.

First, a little historical reminder: The only way that May, 18 months out, is late for a presidential campaign is by the Democrats' 2007 standards, when Hillary Clinton's juggernaut decided to tie up her Democratic nomination early and this Barack Obama character needed to introduce himself outside northern Illinois.

The Republicans had no heir apparent back then either, thanks to George W. Bush clinging to the old Wyoming guy for one term too many. At this time four years ago, pretty much only one thing was certain: John McCain's quest for the GOP nomination was doomed, virtually dead in the water. And the real GOP comer was sure to be Fred Thompson.Michele Bachmann and a fan outswide the Capitol 4-11

In 1960, Massachusetts' John Kennedy, the second and last sitting senator to win the presidency until Obama, announced his candidacy on Jan. 2 of that election year (see his announcement video below).

Kennedy won the job with a 10-month (311-day) campaign. Bill Clinton announced 13 months before the election, Bush 16 months before.

It took Obama 21 months last time and by Nov. 6, 2012, he'll have consumed a 572-day campaign.

Gingrich launched early this month because he had a 1990s image to rehab; he still does, after bad-mouthing a fellow Republican's budget plan on national TV Sunday.

And Ron Paul? Well, Ron Paul is Ron Paul. He's not selling a realistic candidacy; he admits that. He's peddling a libertarian/"tea party" philosophy, which will be an important driver of the Republican primary debates in unpredictable ways.

At this point the hierarchical Republican Party usually has a double-digit frontrunner; they like things orderly. That's why Newt's kicking over some chairs in the Republican living room this week upset so many in his own party. He apologized Tuesday as he launched a 17-city tour of Iowa.

The upside to campaigning early is everyone's watching. That's the downside too; any gaffes really stick out.

So Romney quietly goes about his delegate-wooing, popping up here and there for a quick speech or an impressive $10.2-million money bomb day this week in Nevada. Jon Huntsman is touring New Hampshire this week. Tim Pawlenty is out there too. And Michele Bachmann, the crowd-pleaser who grew up in Iowa.

Indiana Gov. Mitch DRepublican governor Mitch Daniels welcomes Obama to Indiana 5-6-11aniels says he'll make up his mind "soon." Despite his Harley and preference for jeans, Daniels is shaping up as the party establishment's guy; they like chief executive types; think Gov. Reagan, Vice President Bush, Gov. Bush.

Laura Bush reportedly called Cheri Daniels the other day to reassure her about a campaign's impacts on candidate families.

And Daniels himself showed up unexpectedly in an Indianapolis bar last week to sip a beer and schmooze with exuberant college supporters, not the kind of extra evening activity politicians choose without a motive.

But what's the rush for him? Or anyone else for that matter?

Off in the wings, no doubt closely watching the field all summer long, are current New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and current Texas Gov. Rick Perry. Perry is the nation's longest-serving state chief executive, an Eagle Scout, military vet, gun-lover and personable campaigner.

Perry's also a Southerner, from the GOP-friendly region gaining most of the reapportioned electoral votes.

In terms of taxes, spending, job creation, business attitude, experience and state's rights, Perry's just about as stark a contrast to the White House Democrat as can be imagined. Even their book titles: Obama's "Dreams of My Father" vs Perry's "Fed Up! Our Fight to Save America from Washington."

Both Christie and Perry have said they're not running this time. They've said that frequently.

A little too frequently. 

-- Andrew Malcolm

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Photos: Mark Hirsch / Getty Images (Gingrich campaigns in Iowa, May 16); Ethan Miller / Getty Images (Romney collects campaign contributions, May 16); Alex Brandon / Associated Press (Bachmann and a fan); Charles Dharapak / Associated Press (Daniels and Obama, May 6).

Comments () | Archives (7)

The comments to this entry are closed.

I see you haven't mentioned the name of one Republican woman from that state where you've got to be tough to survive the sunless winter. I wonder why . . .

Below is the headline today.. and you don't even mention his name. Aren't you being racist!

Herman Cain Surges to the Top of the GOP Field in New Poll
We don't want Romney or the rest.. we want Herman Cain.

Newts problem was not that he entered early, but that he decided to attack a fellow repub, in attacking the Ryan plan. It was especially bad since the Ryan plan is strongly supported by a key repub constiuency, the Tea Party. Not every repub has to completely endorse the Ryan plan, but if they have disagreements with it they should be careful not to use words that a typical dem would use, like radical or social engineering. If they want to do something differently, they should praise Ryan for a courageous start, and then say some like "instead of doing such and such, I think this would be better". That way, they can take their own approach, but without trashing Ryan and giving the dems attack lines.

Obama may not be perfect, but he is leagues ahead of any possible candidate that the Republican/Tea Party could scrounge up. Obama has some work to do but the US could not field a more qualified candidate for the most important job in this country (and around the world). We should offer a modicum of thanks even if it is not exactly how we thought it would be a short two years later. Obama can't do it all and can't do it alone.

All of those of us who have been affected by the nuclear fallout from the Bush Administration's failed policies - take your pick - and the rampant greed of money hungry war mongers, bankers, money managers, corporate bosses et al who were allowed to steal all of the money out of this economy (and all over the world giving away our jobs and sucking up everyone else's money too) or were allowed to use it in bribery and complicity in these unconscionable wars - these are the people who have created the deficit, not us, we The People who are struggling to live from day to day and from paycheck to paycheck (if we're lucky to have a job).

As the American people, we've had plenty of opportunity to learn these lessons associated with unfit leaders. I don't know about you, but I'm ready for a more sane world and from what I can see, Obama is our best bet for getting there. As we support him, we must also push him harder toward that vision of a saner world, so at the end of 4 more years, we can say that with his leadership, Yes We Did.

OK, two reasons Newt will NEVER be president -1) His first name is an ingredient in witches' brews - and - 2) His last name sounds like Grinch! Sad but true.

Republicans are funniest when they take themselves seriously. It is like a group of cartoon characters got together and joined a political party. Sit back and watch the hilarity as they attempt to out nut-case each other in the 2012 run-up. In fact, I would not be surprised if Fox News moved to Saturday mornings for the kiddies.

It’s interesting that as soon as the media finished hyping Donald Trump as the greatest thing since indoor flush toilets, a new media darling was trotted out and paraded before the dwindling American populace who still watch television, yes, it happens to be that worn out phony new age occult philanderer from the 1990’s Newt "world order" Gingrich.

Newt "world order" is really like a frumpy old pair of pants that didn’t even fit you back in the 1990’s so you donated them to charity hoping to never see them again. But now you wake up to find those same outdated and dilapidated pants plastered everywhere in the news suggesting the deranged prospect that you would (for some unknown reason) try to actually wear them in 2012.

The fact that any media even pays attention to this has-been marxist loser is further evidence of the globalist controlled media. The powers that be are presenting an endless parade of marxist Rothschild losers before the eyes of the American public.


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About the Columnist
A veteran foreign and national correspondent, Andrew Malcolm has served on the L.A. Times Editorial Board and was a Pulitzer finalist in 2004. He is the author of 10 nonfiction books and father of four. Read more.
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