What the Newt Gingrich staff implosion means for the 2012 Republican race
The real import of Thursday's aide walkout from Newt Gingrich's flailing presidential campaign has little to do with the former House speaker himself.
It's like a football expansion draft, the players from Gingrich's now-crippled political franchise will get picked up and signed on to other GOP campaigns, this being the eve of prime-time for these savvy hired guns who live for the unpredictable adrenalin rush and constant predictable grind of campaign days.
Immediately, Sonny Perdue, the former Georgia governor and national co-chair for Gingrich 2012, signed on to Tim Pawlenty's political team.
But what's more important is that two of these now-departed Gingrich campaign aides were actually on loan from another governor, Texas Republican Rick Perry. Chief among them Rob Johnson, Gingrich’s campaign manager, and Dave Carney.
The tall conservative Eagle Scout, now Texas' longest-serving governor ever, has stated several times that he's not running for his party's 2012 nomination, which is smart. He's been dealing with the state legislature all spring. And why ask to be targeted by opponents sooner than necessary?
But he's waffled enough to keep the hopeful murmurs smoldering like a Texas wildfire during the night, especially among fiscal conservatives dissatisfied with the fiscal and smaller government bona fides of the current crop of Republican wannabes.
With his fiscal (and reportedly personal) stinginess, no-new taxes and pro-business climate, Perry's state has created more new American jobs in the last four years alone than all the other 49 states combined.
Think that might resonate instantly with many Americans who've told pollsters from Day One of the Obama Change Era that the economy/jobs were, are and will be Issue One for them?
And Perry's recent book title is a perfect campaign theme for anti-Obama forces assembling on the right: "Fed Up! Our Fight to Save America from Washington."
Perry is also chairman of the Republican Governors Assn., putting him in almost daily touch with the country's heavy financial hitters. With his campaign gang back home in the heat of the Texas summer, Perry can now begin seriously assessing his 2012 prospects, for a possible move later this summer if the lack of passion for the current Republicans field continues.
As for Gingrich, he passed for a no-holds-barred D.C. politician 15 years ago. With his long classroom experience, he was one of the best no-notes public speakers around. And his widely-distributed Go-Pac lecture tapes tying world history into contemporary American issues could be mesmerizing.
He seemed to overflow with new ideas, often pulling folded notes or articles from his coat pocket to show listeners. His speaker resignation after the disappointing 1998 midterms combined with serial romances created overweight personal baggage and took him off the playing field for too many years, despite frequent TV appearances.
Additionally, the pace and meanness of federal politics has increased. So, even without his opening campaign missteps this time, Gingrich's bid seemed marginal at best and from another time. Many of his most logical supporters were not just not supporting him, but harshly criticizing him.
A dead giveaway to this doomed campaign came in his one-sentence Thursday vow to continue:
"I am committed to running the substantive, solutions-oriented campaign I set out to run earlier this spring. The campaign begins anew Sunday in Los Angeles."
Actually, not Los Angeles. Beverly Hills. The influential Republican Jewish Coalition is meeting there. There's only one reason any pol starts anew, stops or ends in Beverly Hills. And it's not to greet commuters exiting the subway.
It's money, dollars being the most important kind of votes at this stage in any presidential campaign.
-- Andrew Malcolm
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Photo: Jack Plunkett / Associated Press (Perry).