In his typical understated New York fashion, former Mayor Rudy Giuliani went on Fox and Friends yesterday and smacked Newt Gingrich and Rick Perry for their sudden yearning for class warfare.
“What the hell are you doing, Newt? I expect this from Saul Alinsky. This is what Saul Alinsky taught Barack Obama, and what you’re saying is part of the reason we’re in so much trouble right now,” said a furious and frustrated America’s mayor.
Stephen Moore of the Wall Street Journal reports there are now second thoughts in the Gingrich camp about identifying a man who repeatedly identifies himself as a “Reagan conservative” with a 28-minute documentary attacking Mitt Romney as a big bad capitalist. Good thinking.
One has to wonder:
What in the world is Gingrich SuperPAC honcho Rick Tyler smoking?
In a clip of an interview with MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell, played on air by Rush Limbaugh, Tyler responds to Mitchell’s question of whether or not the anti-Romney approach taken by the Gingrich campaign is not causing Gingrich himself problems — with Republican voters.
To which Tyler answers by saying that Obama’s David Axelrod knows infinitely more about Romney’s Bain Capital than the Gingrich camp and will let fly if Romney is the nominee. So therefore, was the implication, the attacks on Romney over Bain by the Gingrich campaign are as nothing… and necessary to boot.
To say the least, we’ve been critical of Governor Romney in this space. He is a nice guy but not a conservative. In fact, the one thing Newt is doing right is identifying Romney as a “Massachusetts moderate.” True. Absolutely. Romney is a 21st century Rockefeller Republican, just another card-carrying GOP moderate of the type that has routinely lost presidential elections or turned in historically disappointing presidencies that are nothing if not just more status quo.
We’ve taken flack from the anti-Newt side of the corral and others for thinking of Speaker Gingrich from our experience with him in his days as a young Reaganite leader of the Conservative Opportunity Society in the House. Newt, it has been insisted to us, is not a conservative at all but a liberal… an opportunist… a man unable to stop shooting himself in the foot etc., etc. Suffice to say, this was certainly not the impression he gave in repeated dealings with him as an energetic Reaganite House leader carrying the war straight to the liberal likes of Tip O’Neill and Jim Wright.
But what Mr. Tyler is saying… plus the disgraceful Romney-attack ads coming from the Gingrich SuperPAC now being played on conservative talk radio… can not only deepen that impression of the anti-Newts, it can have the end result of self-sabotaging the Gingrich campaign and his reputation beyond as a Reagan conservative. Lending the distinct and to some alarming impression that in a fit of fury at Romney (justified) the ex-Speaker is switching from being a leader of the Conservative Opportunity Society to what might be called the Gingrich/Perry Conservative Resentment Society.
There are 1,000 and one ways to go after Romney’s record as a “Massachusetts moderate.”
Flip-flopping, abortion, planned parenthood, the anti-Reagan streak when convenient, the “I was an independent and I’m not a partisan” shtick used to run for office in Massachusetts. Even under attack on Bain, Governor Romney seems too timid to make a full throated defense of economic freedom and capitalism. Indeed, Romney’s very timidity in defending both himself and the core principle of conservatism that is economic freedom should serve as yet another fire bell in the night as to the lack of boldness inherent in a potential Romney administration.
One of the other points Mayor Giuliani made is perhaps key to the entire campaign — the emotional desire of both Rudy Giuliani and millions of grassroots Republicans/conservatives to raise the Reagan conservative banner. Newt was making progress on this path.
But in an apparent — and understandable — desire to even the score with Romney over all those Iowa commercials, Gingrich himself or his advisers (that means you, Rick Tyler) are using an influx of cash to the end result of effectively trashing the Reagan legacy, not to mention the ex-Speaker’s credibility as a Reagan conservative.
This baloney — and that is what it is — should stop. The offensive Gingrich radio ads being run on conservative talk radio effectively attacking free markets and economic liberty under the guise of Bain-did-bad should be halted on the spot. Designed this way or not, they are perceived as a vivid and direct Alinsky/Obama style attack on capitalism and economic freedom. In particular, to run them on the shows of the most prominent conservative talkers in the land — whose audiences are large precisely because the hosts are Reagan conservatives — is akin to running ads on evangelical radio stations attacking religion.
This isn’t serious strategy. This is self-sabotage.
The fact of the matter is that Newt Gingrich has made an excellent case for himself — and against Romney. Rick Perry, once filled with promise, is stumbling around out there not simply because of bad debate performances but because he gave the impression with his in-state tuition answer for the children of illegals that he was at heart a closet liberal. A perception he has doubled-down on with this “vulture capital” routine, the latter doing nothing if not reminding that Mr. Perry began his career as a Democrat supporting Al Gore.
It is often said that Social Security is the “third rail” of politics. Touch it, so goes the tale, and your career will die.
In the wake of the Gingrich/Perry attacks on Romney it can perhaps be added that economic freedom is the third rail of conservative politics. If one touches it — “touches” defined as being perceived as attacking economic freedom — a conservative will find their career if not dead at least impossibly scorched.
Speaker Gingrich and Governor Perry are in the process of scorching themselves and killing both their campaigns and larger Reagan conservative reputations. If this continues, perhaps the best thing all around would be if someone quietly said two words to each.