Ghosts of GOP past are rising from political tombs to sound alarms about Newt in the White House even as the last Florida debate has him on the defensive about the past and future.
Gingrich fails in his attempt to use Wolf Blitzer as the kind of tackle dummy he made out of CNN colleague John King in South Carolina, while 1996 candidate Bob Dole is joined by Tom Delay, Ann Coulter, Elliott Abrams and other Conservatives in a Matt Drudge firing squad against the former Speaker.
“If Gingrich is the nominee,” writes Dole, “it will have an adverse impact on Republican candidates running for county, state, and federal offices. Hardly anyone who served with Newt in Congress has endorsed him...
“By 1997 a number of House Republican members wanted to throw him out as Speaker. But he hung on until after the 1998 elections...His mounting ethics problems caused him to resign in early 1999. I know whereof I speak as I helped establish a line of credit of $150,000 to help Newt pay off the fine for his ethics violations...
“Gingrich had a new idea every minute and most of them were off the wall. He loved picking a fight with President Clinton because he knew this would get the attention of the press. This and a myriad of other specifics like shutting down the government helped to topple Gingrich in 1998.
“In my run for the presidency in 1996 the Democrats greeted me with a number of negative TV ads and in every one of them Newt was in the ad. He was very unpopular and I am not only certain that this did not help me, but that it also cost House seats that year.”
Now, his rivals have National Review and the GOP establishment sounding the alarm for them about Gingrich’s “grandiose” plans, the latest of which is colonizing the moon and eventually making it a state.
In the debate, Rick Santorum looks comparatively sane even as he complains that the President stole his ideas about stimulating manufacturing in the State of the Union and blames Obama for the downgrade of U.S. credit without acknowledging the Tea Party temper tantrum that caused it.
Romney, who now has an “attack coach,” is getting better at giving as good as he gets from Gingrich, who had been treating him like a rich kid in the schoolyard, stealing his lunch money and making him look bad.
Meanwhile, Ron Paul is relaxed and making jokes, as he goes on with a plausible case against foreign wars coupled with loony Libertarian railing over domestic spending.
Where are the men with nets now that we need them?