Going Nuclear On Newt

On Monday, Mitt Romney called on Newt Gingrich to return the $1.6 million he earned consulting for Freddie Mac, on the grounds that Gingrich has recently been a very outspoken critic of that government-sponsored disaster.  Gingrich shot back, “If Governor Romney would like to give back all the money he’s earned from bankrupting companies and laying off employees over his years at Bain, then I would be glad to listen to him.”

If I were going to give back that kind of dough, I’d expect Gingrich to do more than just listen to me.  Mitt Romney doesn’t take that kind of sucker bet.  Er, hang on, maybe I should rephrase that.

Romney’s defenders say this is an unfair characterization of his work at Bain Capital, especially coming from a top GOP candidate, who should be expected to have a better understanding of capitalist enterprises, or at least avoid playing into the crude anti-capitalist bunkum America is drowning in.  If nothing else, Romney should understand he’s going to be hearing the same attacks from Obama if he gets the GOP nomination, and not just in one crabby press-conference comeback.

Sensing some blood in the water, Romney doubled down with a campaign email on Tuesday, described by the L.A. Times:

Team Romney is slamming Newt Gingrich, the new front-runner, with every breath it takes. The barrage began anew Tuesday, with the campaign sending out a new mailer hitting Gingrich once more on his work for Freddie Mac. And the Romney e-blast arrived adorned with a new header: “Unreliable Leader” with a picture of Gingrich beside his old pal, Nancy Pelosi.

The campaign renewed its call for Gingrich to disgorge the reported $1.6 million in fees he received as a consultant to the mortgage giant. It also accuses Gingrich of being less than forthcoming about his role with Freddie. Gingrich and has said he was a “historian” giving advice to Freddie about the risks of its business model. But media reports by Bloomberg News and others suggest Gingrich was recruited to help keep that model intact by ginning up support from Republicans.

Gingrich put out his own email to supporters, calling for a positive campaign because “it is critical the Republican nominee emerge from this primary campaign un-bloodied, so that he or she can make the case against President Obama from a position of strength.”

For these reasons I have refrained from launching attacks on my Republican opponents, though I have reserved the right to respond when my record has been distorted. On Monday this occurred when Governor Romney and I engaged in what in diplomatic circles is called “a frank exchange” over our respective records in the private sector. That same day, however, Mr. Romney announced, “I’m not going to say outrageous things that can be used to hang [a GOP opponent] down the road.” I agree wholeheartedly with this statement. So let us hope that from this point forward we can devote our energies to real issues, such as discussing our plans for our nation’s economic recovery and helping to create millions of new jobs for the American people.

I also want to reiterate to each of you what I have said from the beginning of our campaign, and most recently last Saturday in Iowa: We will run a positive campaign focused on our country’s future. We will not be running any negative advertising. With Ronald Reagan’s eleventh commandment in mind, we will ask our supporters not to contribute to any so-called SuperPAC that runs negative ads against any other Republican contender and we will discourage ad hominem attacks on our fellow Republicans.

This will be greeted with relief at the offices of both Freddie Mac and Bain Capital, if Team Romney accepts the olive branch.

It will take a much bigger olive branch for Gingrich to win over radio host Glenn Beck, who has declared all-out war on him, to the point of supporting Barack Obama’s certain re-election if Gingrich is the GOP nominee.  Beck started out by declaring that, since Gingrich and Obama are both “progressives,” you must be a racist if you support Gingrich over Obama.  “If you’re against [Obama] but you’re for this guy, it must be about race.  It’s the policies that matter,” explained Beck.

Beck later said he didn’t really mean to call anyone a racist, but he just wanted to get Tea Partiers to think, because he doesn’t understand how they could possibly support Gingrich.  Okay, but why bring the blood-soaked club of racism into the discussion, playing so perfectly into the very politics Beck claims to oppose with every fiber of his being?  What’s wrong with the old standby, “There isn’t a dime’s worth of difference between [squishy Republican] and [die-hard liberal ideologue whose policies are destroying the country]?”  Has the dime really be de-valued that much?

At any rate, Beck was soon announcing that he’d think about voting for Ron Paul as a third-party candidate if the totally unacceptable Gingrich is the GOP nominee.  Is that another crazy statement that’s supposed to make all us Tea Party types “think?”  Because the one person it is absolutely guaranteed to provoke deep thoughts in would be Ron Paul, whose third-party calculations will be heavily influenced by knowing someone with Glenn Beck’s huge audience is receptive to a bid.  And, as The Right Scoop observes while presenting Beck’s comments, “This is suicide, and it doesn’t get any simpler than this: voting third party on our side for whomever guarantees Obama a victory.”

Meanwhile, another radio host, Michael Savage, offered Gingrich a million dollars if he would drop out of the race within 72 hours.  He made this offer in ALL CAPS, and as I do not like to scream at readers, I’ll just give you a link if you want to read it.  In essence, Savage thinks Gingrich is unelectable, and only Mitt Romney can win.  One observation: why not $1.6 million, the same amount Gingrich earned working at Freddie Mac?  That seems like a missed opportunity for big-ticket sarcasm.

This would seem to unite Savage and Beck with Romney in their anti-Gingrichness, but there’s one problem: Mitt Romney identified himself as a “progressive” as recently as 2002.  That’s going to be tough to work out at the Savage-Beck summit meeting once Gingrich has been disposed of.  Or maybe everybody, including Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney, could try making their points with logic and sincere passion, instead of hurling nuclear insults and ultimatums around.