Fear and Loathing in the Sunshine State - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
Fear and Loathing in the Sunshine State

FORT MYERS, Fla. — George Soros, Goldman Sachs, and other forces of the “establishment” are conspiring to support Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign, Newt Gingrich warned Republicans here Monday, as Floridians prepared to go to the polls in their state’s crucial GOP primary.

Referring to an interview that Soros — a billionaire notorious for his funding of left-wing causes — gave to Reuters last week in Davos, Switzerland, Gingrich summarized Soros as saying, “We think either Obama or Romney’s fine, but Gingrich, he would change things.” The anti-Gingrich cabal, said the former House Speaker, also includes investment banking giant Goldman Sachs, which backed President Obama four years ago and now — having profited from taxpayer-funded Wall Street bailouts — is bankrolling Romney’s campaign attack ads. “Those ads are your money recycled to attack me,” Gingrich told the hundreds gathered outside Page Field airport here.

He cited no evidence that Goldman Sachs was in cahoots with Romney, and the opacity of the “super PACs” which are pumping millions into this Republican primary campaign makes it impossible either to prove or disprove Gingrich’s depiction of the malevolent forces arrayed against him. Yet he repeated similar accusations in different forums throughout the day — on ABC in the morning, on Fox News in the afternoon, and at each of the five stops on his final whirlwind tour of the Sunshine State — as if endeavoring to convince his supporters that they are victims of a vast conspiracy. Newt seemed to be providing a pre-emptive excuse for what polls indicate will be a decisive defeat for him in Tuesday’s winner-take-all primary.

Six polls within the past week have shown Gingrich trailing Romney by double-digit margins in Florida — the Real Clear Politics average of Florida polls had Romney’s margin at 12.5 points Monday — a striking reversal of Gingrich’s advantage after he beat Romney handily in South Carolina ten days ago. (See “The End of Inevitability,” Jan. 22.) The rival campaigns suddenly seem to have switched roles. Gingrich’s Carolina win was enough to inspire panic among Romney’s supporters, with Jennifer Rubin of the Washington Post warning that if Newt got the nomination he would “alienate virtually all independent voters, lose more than 40 states and put the House majority in jeopardy.” But as evidence mounted that Romney’s aggressive full-court Florida attack was succeeding — and after Gingrich fared poorly in two televised debates last week — it was Newt and his supporters who pushed the panic button, asserting that unless conservatives immediately rallied behind Gingrich, the “Establishment” would conspire to deliver the GOP nomination to Romney.

Among those who have helped spread that message is former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, who last week issued a Facebook warning that “the GOP establishment [is] trying to anoint a candidate without the blessing of the grassroots” and “using Alinsky tactics to kneecap Governor Romney’s chief rival.” Palin yesterday reiterated that charge during an appearance on Andrew Napolitano’s Fox Business Network program, saying that “those inside the machine” are ganging up against Gingrich. For the first time during this campaign, Palin expressed a dismissive attitude toward another Republican challenger, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, telling Napolitano that the Republican choice is “one or the other” between Mitt and Newt, adding that it is “naively idealistic” to think either Santorum or Texas Rep. Ron Paul could mount a serious challenge to Romney.

Because the Florida primary awards delegates on a winner-take-all basis, there is no benefit to candidates who can’t contend for first place here. Paul skipped out of Florida after last Thursday’s debate, while Santorum was forced to cut short his campaign in the Sunshine State because of his 3-year-old daughter’s weekend illness. Both candidates, however, have vowed to continue the fight in upcoming caucuses and primaries. Santorum picked up the endorsement of influential conservative columnist and blogger Michelle Malkin Monday and, in an appearance in Missouri (which holds a non-binding primary vote next week), vowed to avoid “gutter politics” in his campaign. When the votes are counted tonight in Florida, Santorum will be watching the results with his supporters in Nevada, where Saturday’s caucuses will be the next contest on the GOP campaign calendar.

Meanwhile in Florida, the man who looks to be the loser in this winner-take-all primary was pushing an angry populist message yesterday to the supporters who gathered at the airport in Fort Myers. Gingrich warned that the Obama administration was attempting to impose a “dictatorship of anti-religious secularism,” he promised to move the U.S. embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, and he denounced Romney as having “no clue what Reagan stood for.” (One Romney ad cites Gingrich’s long-ago criticisms of President Reagan, which Gingrich sought to refute by bringing the Gipper’s son, conservative talk-show host Michael Reagan, to campaign for him in Florida.) Gingrich welcomed the endorsement of Herman Cain — whose Tea Party-backed campaign was derailed by allegations of sexual misconduct — saying that the Atlanta businessman’s support would “send a signal that this is a grassroots populist conservatism versus the establishment.” The crowd enthusiastically cheered.

“We’re in a very simple campaign,” Gingrich said. “We are pitting people power against money power. No question — you look at the list of top ten donors to Mitt Romney, that’s money power. That is the establishment. Those are the people who would be happy, as George Soros said, with either Obama or Romney, and they do not want a conservative. Those are the people who have led the assault on me over the last couple of weeks, by all sorts of folks whose number-one goal is to keep power in Washington the way it is now.”

Gingrich then alluded to New York — that is to say, the Wall Street financiers who he alleges have bankrolled Romney’s campaign against him — as having perpetrated a fraud that he promised to expose. “I want you to know, I do not believe it is legitimate for the current establishment to preside over the decay as long as they’re doing well. I think we have an obligation to our children, to our grandchildren, to fundamentally change Washington and, frankly, to fundamentally change New York. We deserve to know the truth about the last four years. We deserve to know what happened to our money.”

The afternoon sun was shining brightly and, behind Gingrich, palm trees were swaying in the warm breeze, but he seemed to see no irony in issuing this dark and chilly warning against the menace of “money power” to a Republican audience in the Sunshine State.

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