Over at the great Richard Viguerie’s Conservative HQ is the scoop to be had on yesterday’s meeting between conservative leaders and Newt Gingrich. The meeting was put together by Viguerie and Diana Banister of Shirley & Banister. (Craig Shirley, by the way, has a new book out, December 1941: 31 Days That Changed America and Saved the World)
The meeting, as the headline describes, was something of a Newt-in-the-Lions Den kind of affair. These were many of the conservative leaders who have known Gingrich a long time and been alternately impressed, enthused, exasperated and infuriated by the experience. By several accounts Newt was specific, pointed and enthusiastic. At the end, in spite of some heat in the room, the former Speaker received a standing ovation.
What’s happening here is that as the race narrows — seemingly at this point to the two leaders Gingrich and Romney — with Ron Paul nipping at Romney’s heels — serious attention is now being paid by all concerned. Five GOP presidents have come and gone in the era of the birth and growth of the conservative movement: Nixon, Ford, Reagan, and the two Bushes. Losing GOP nominees have all been moderates — Ford, Bush 41, Dole and McCain. There is plenty of collective experience in dealing with a Republican White House — and real understanding of what it takes to keep a president, his staff and administration on a conservative track.
There have been outstanding successes (Reagan and the economy, the winning of the Cold War), some sidetracks (Bush 43’s Harriet Miers Supreme Court nomination), and some defeats (Bork, prescription drugs). The lesson not to be missed is that once this nomination is decided by the GOP — the work begins through the fall, and the next four or eight years — to do the nitty-gritty work of righting America (so to speak.)
Yesterday’s meeting appears to have been an excellent start.