When Newt Gingrich is on the stump, it seems as if he has been preparing to run for president since he was born. He’s a natural and politics at a level that oftentimes makes his opponents seem like amateurs.
His organization, though, often resembles a group of people who crammed the fundamentals of political organizing and are trying to survive and advance to the next day.
This was evident yesterday when Gingrich started his day in Richmond, Virginia, which was the culmination of a fervent attempt to get on Virginia’s ballot. Gingrich’s campaign collected the 10,000 signatures — and at least 400 from each of Virginia’s eleven congressional districts — to get on the ballot along with Mitt Romney, Rick Perry, and Ron Paul. Jon Huntsman, Michele Bachmann, and Rick Santorum failed to get on the ballot for the crucial “Super Tuesday” primary state that may be the most pivotal state in the general election against Barack Obama.
Time spent in Virginia, of course, is time that could have been spent in the early caucus or primary states.
But on the stump, Gingrich is nothing like his organization that he is putting together on the fly.
“I am shaped a lot by the history of Virginia,” Gingrich said, noting that his lapel pin is a replica of George Washington’s command flag that was flown at Valley Forge.
Gingrich then said that having judges go unchecked was a “repudiation of the history of George Washington and the history of the United States” and lambasted President Barack Obama as someone who favored a”European, secular socialist bureaucratic system” that has “too much red tape” and “too much litigation.”
Gingrich said Obama had a “psychological attitude” that is “the opposite of the American tradition.”
In Virginia, a Quinnipiac poll has Gingrich leading Romney, 30 percent to 25 percent.
Part of the reason why Gingrich is still leading many national and state polls is his fervent embrace of Americanism and his combativeness against Obama.
Gingrich also pointed out in Virginia that he and Ron Paul, who has surged into the lead in many Iowa polls, differed greatly on foreign policy and tried to convince many of the young voters that are inclined to support Paul that their futures may not be so bright if Iran obtained a nuclear weapon, which Paul often seems to not care about.
“There is a big difference between Ron Paul and me on foreign policy,” Gingrich said. “An Iranian nuclear weapon is a mortal threat to Israel and the United States,” Gingrich said
Gingrich said Iran is a very different from what the Soviet threat was and would be more difficult to deter because of the religious underpinnings of those in Iran who want to do America harm.
“The reason deterrence worked with Soviets is because they were Communists,” Gingrich said, noting that since Communists did not believe in God, they realized that “it was over” if they blew themselves up.
“But if you are a genuine deeply committed person, and you believe your death will take you to a paradise … I don’t understand why they wouldn’t be thrilled to [kill themselves] with a nuclear weapon,” Gingrich said.
Later in the evening, Gingrich participated in an “Ask Newt” tele-townhall event for Iowans, the purpose of which was to refute the negative ads against him. Millions of dollars worth of ads, from Super-PACs associated with Messrs. Romney, Paul, and Perry, have gone up in Iowa in recent weeks to slam Gingrich’s past record. This has caused his poll numbers to plummet
Gingrich focused on three specific areas — gun rights, his association with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and his pro-life record — to rebut attacks that have been incessantly airing in Iowa attacking him on these fronts.
“You and I had the right to bear arms independent of the Constitution,” Gingrich said, noting that the right to bear arms comes from God and before the Constitution was written, which is why the Second Amendment is a “political amendment” meant to protect Americans against a dictator.
Gingrich also eased the concerns of a caller who was skeptical about his immigration plan. After Gingrich said his plan included securing the border by 2014 and making English the official language of government and having immigrants learn American history as a prerequisite for citizenship, the caller appeared to be assuaged and said he would support Gingrich in the caucus.
The last caller on the tele-townhall complained that Republicans, particularly John McCain, was not aggressive enough in combating or vetting Obama.
She said Obama does not appreciate America and told Gingrich “not to be wimpish.”
Gingrich chuckled, assuring her that he would not.
Gingrich’s strength has been the brashness with which he has attacked Obama with glee.
He said his plan is to finish third or fourth in Iowa, second in New Hampshire, and win South Carolina and Florida en route to the nomination.
Attempting to do that with a makeshift organization spontaneously being put together is in itself also as bold and brash as Gingrich’s ideas and rhetoric that has allowed many conservatives to overlook his past political and personal baggage.