Policy, Politics, Publicity: Why Newt Gingrich Will Be a Formidable Contender

In the next two weeks, the 2012 field of GOP presidential contenders will congeal. Last week, Newt Gingrich showed why he will be a more than formidable candidate. During a series of events, he displayed how he can combine politics, policy, and publicity to leverage his ideas and brand.

During a tele-townhall co-hosted by The Contract From America (Gingrich was its first signatory), BBA Now, and The, Gingrich showed his depth and range on a variety of issues ranging from immigration, to allowing people to opt-in to a flat tax rate, to criticizing President Obama for seemingly caring more about offshore drilling in Brazil than in America.

During the tele-forum, Gingrich also called on George Washington University to invite Paul Ryan back to give a counter to President Obama’s speech at the university, which Gingrich said was a “demagogic” speech that was “cheap” and “nasty” because it used Ryan as a “prop.”

The next day, on an appearance on The Kudlow Report, Gingrich said he would make an announcment regarding his candidacy during the first week of May. He then said that Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke should not get a second term.

During an appearance in Charleston, South Carolina on Thursday, Gingrich outlined some innovative approaches to energy security, summarized below:

  1. Replace the Environmental Protection Agency, which has become a job-killing regulatory engine of higher energy prices, with an Environmental Solutions Agency that would work cooperatively with local government and industry to achieve better environmental outcomes while considering the impact of federal environmental policies on job creation and the cost of energy.
  2. End the ban on oil shale development in the American West, where we have three times the amount oil as Saudi Arabia.
  3. Give coastal states federal royalty revenue sharing so that state’s budgets directly benefits from offshore development.
  4. Enact a loser-pays law to force the losers in environmental lawsuits to pay all legal costs for the prevailing side, which will reduce frivolous lawsuits that are employed simply to stop energy production.
  5. Finance cleaner energy research and projects with new oil and gas royalties.
  6. Appoint a commission of engineers and scientists, not politicians, to study the damaged nuclear reactor in Japan and determine if any changes need to be made to US nuclear power standards.

Then, at the Brookings Institution on Friday, Gingrich gave a substantive, compelling, and engaging speech regarding health policy.

At Brookings, Gingrich said that “for nearly 50 years the United States has sought to lower health costs through more and more bureaucratic controls and micro management. The effort has made doctors miserable while leading to more expensive and more complicated regulatory systems which shift cost from medicine to bureaucratic administration.”

“As the baby boomers age and health solutions become more sophisticated this approach
will eventually bankrupt the country while killing jobs and producing worse health results
with greater suffering and less independence for many Americans with health challenges.”

In his speech, Gingrich linked the potential that lies in innovative health solutions in helping restore America’s economy and lambasted the current bureaucratic-heavy system that liberals advocate that can potentially prevent America from capitalizing on the innovations that are on the horizon in the health care industry.

Among some of Gingrich’s solutions:

1. Create a 21st century Food and Drug Administration which emphasizes collaboration
and speed to market.
2. The National Science Foundation budget should be substantially increased.
3. The National Institutes of Health budget should be increased but NIH leadership
should be challenged to fundamentally rethink the small grant peer review
incremental approach.
4. A very bold approach to brain science is needed to both take advantage of the
potential for enormous breakthroughs and the sheer financial threat of brain disease
(of which Alzheimer’s is merely the most expensive).
5. Translating breakthroughs in biology into usable products requires a rebirth of small
venture capital firms. New startups historically have been much more agile and much
more effective at translating research into products. We should repeal Sarbanes-
Oxley which had zero usefulness in providing information during the 2008 financial
meltdown but which is a major burden crippling the venture capital and new startup
6. The Congressional Budget Office and Office of Management and Budget should be
challenged to develop new models that study the history of scientific breakthroughs
and their impact on spending patterns.
7. The Center for Medicaid and Medicare Services and the private insurance industry
should develop models for pilot projects and experimental payments for potential

When on his A-game, Gingrich is an intellectual force and heavyweight who knows how to market his ideas in a compelling way that is understandable by the general public. Gingrich is also savvy and nimble in framing how his ideas can be solutions for contemporary problems that the country faces at the moment.

The more the 2012 contest is focused on wonkish policy, Gingrich will have more of a homecourt advantage and the better off he will be.