GOP Establishment Mobilizes Against Newt Gingrich

VIDEO: Senator doesn't think high profile Romney backers should attend Gingrich rallies
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As Newt Gingrich's momentum seems to be slipping in the days leading up to the Florida primary, Republican politicians and conservative pundits have launched attacks against the former House speaker.

Recent polls in Florida show Mitt Romney back ahead, which is in part because of an anti-Gingrich avalanche raining down from members of his own party.

While South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley's endorsement of Mitt Romney did not help him win that state's primary, Romney has the most major endorsements of all the candidates in the GOP race with the backing of 73 House members, according to the Roll Call endorsement tracker. Newt Gingrich has 11 House endorsements, while both Ron Paul and Rick Santorum have three.

The following pages detail some members of the "stop-Newt" brigade, as well as some of his endorsers.

PHOTO: Senator Bob Dole speaks during an event at the World War II Memorial in this April 12, 2011 filephoto in Washington, DC.
Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images

When asked if Gingrich had a chance to become president on a "CBS Sunday Morning" interview Thursday, Bob Dole, R-Kan., who served as Senate majority leader during Gingrich's tenure as House speaker, responded, "I hope not."

The same day, the Romney campaign released Dole's open letter calling Gingrich a "one-man-band" who would "have an adverse impact on Republican candidates running for county, state, and federal offices" if he were the nominee.

"I have not been critical of Newt Gingrich but it is now time to take a stand before it is too late," the letter begins. "Hardly anyone who served with Newt in Congress has endorsed him and that fact speaks for itself."

Dole's letter, "Mitt Romney Is My Choice for President," is a definitive endorsement of Romney.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie called Gingrich "an embarrassment to the Republican Party" in an interview with David Gregory on "Meet the Press."

"I think Newt Gingrich has embarrassed the party over time," Christie said.

In answering Gregory's question about disqualifying aspects about Gingrich's record, Christie contrasted Gingrich and Romney based upon their past experiences.

"We don't need another legislator in the Oval Office who does not know how to use executive authority," Christie said. "We need an executive -- someone who both in private sector and as a governor understands how to bring people together and use executive power. The speaker simply doesn't have that experience. He's never run anything."

This year's GOP race has seen an unprecedented amount of political "robo-calls," or automated campaign messages," to potential voters in early primary states. Republicans in South Carolina were bombarded by calls, mostly from Romney's camp, before their Jan. 21 primary.

In a robo-call made for the Romney campaign, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., blasted Gingrich for using "dangerous anti-capitalism rhetoric" that is "straight out of Barack Obama's campaign playbook."

"Newt Gingrich has experienced a lot of backlash over the last few days for his attacks on capitalism and Republican principles, and rightfully so," McCain said. "He must have forgotten that Republicans stand up for free enterprise and a strong work ethic."

While campaigning for Romney in Florida, McCain mocked Gingrich's idea to establish a lunar colony and joked: "I think we ought to send Newt Gingrich to the moon and Mitt Romney to the White House. What do you think about that?"

Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty lit into Newt Gingrich on Monday during a conference call with reporters: "For Republicans and conservatives all across this country, a question is going to have to be, as they consider Newt Gingrich as a potential nominee for president: Really? I mean, really?"

"Gingrich," Pawlenty told the reporters, "has spent almost his entire adult life either as a member of the Congress or as somebody who has been an influence peddler. ... To suggest that he's the outsider simply defies the facts."

The media has speculated that Pawlenty could be Romney's potential running mate if he wins the nomination.

PHOTO: Glenn Beck attends the 45th annual CMA Awards at the Bridgestone Arena on Nov. 9, 2011 in Nashville, Tennessee.
Michael Loccisano/Getty Images

Calling him "the only candidate I cannot vote for," conservative radio host Glenn Beck has made no secret of how much he dislikes Newt Gingrich.

In an interview with Fox Business Channel host Andrew Napolitano, Beck said Obama and Gingrich are both "big government progressive[s]," so if Tea Party members are supporting Gingrich, "it must be about race."

Beck welcomed conservative pundit Ann Coulter on his radio show Wednesday morning, and the two lambasted the Republican hopeful. Coulter called Gingrich "pompous and boring," while Beck mocked his poor favorability ratings, saying: "He makes Nancy Pelosi look like a superstar tot he rest of the county."

PHOTO: Former House majority leader Tom Delay leaves the Travis County Jail after being sentence to three years in prison.
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Former Speaker of the House Tom DeLay, R-Texas, blasted Newt Gingrich in an interview with radio talk show host Michael Berry on Wednesday, saying the GOP candidate is "not really a conservative."

"He has an uncanny ability, sort of like [Bill] Clinton, to feel your pain and know his audience and speak to his audience and fire them up. But when he was speaker, he was erratic, undisciplined," DeLay said.

DeLay was convicted of money laundering in January 2011 and sentenced to three years in prison. He is currently free on bail pending an appeal.

PHOTO: Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska speaks at a campaign rally with her husband Todd Palin at the Grand River Center Nov. 3, 2008 in Dubuque, Iowa.
Mark Hirsch/Getty Images

Gingrich does have his supporters. Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin continues to stand up for him against the recent waves of attack.

"They [the establishment] are trying to crucify [Gingrich] and rewrite history and rewrite what it is that he has stood for all these years," Palin told Fox Business Channel's John Stossel on Thursday.

While Palin has not outwardly endorsed Gingrich, she did tell Fox's Sean Hannity that if she lived in South Carolina, she would vote for Gingrich. Her husband, Todd Palin, endorsed the former speaker in early January.

Despite still being "undecided," Palin has been an enthusiastic defender of Gingrich throughout his campaign.

After New Jersey Gov. Christie called Gingrich an "embarrassment" to the GOP, Palin chided him and told Fox News that he had gotten his "panties in a wad."

Ronald Reagan's son, Michael Reagan, endorsed Gingrich in a short statement last week, saying, "Newt exemplifies the conservative principles my father championed."

During the campaign, Gingrich has often portrayed himself as a long-time Reagan insider and supporter with a lot of similarities to the former president. The Michael Reagan endorsement reinforced the perceived ties between Gingrich and Reagan.

"We cannot afford a candidate backed by the same Washington insiders who repeatedly tried to undermine my father and the Reagan revolution," the Michael Reagan statement said. "It's time to choose. ... So I ask my fellow Republicans and conservatives to join me in supporting Newt Gingrich for president."

During Thursday's debate in Florida, Gingrich cited Nancy Reagan's 1995 statement that the Reagan torch had been passed to him. In the original speech, Nancy Reagan said "Barry Goldwater handed the torch to Ronnie, and in turn Ronnie turned that torch over to Newt and the Republican members of Congress to keep that dream alive."

PHOTO: Actor and former U.S. Sen. Fred Thompson speaks on day two of the Republican National Convention,St. Paul, Minnesota, Sept. 2, 2008.
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Newt Gingrich's campaign released a endorsement from Fred Thompson on Tuesday, including a five-minute video enumerating reasons for supporting Gingrich.

Thompson emphasized that the current federal government is more "wasteful" and "out of control" than it was 10 years ago during his own time on the Senate Government Affairs Committee following Gingrich's time in Congress.

He said he first went to Washington in 1995 "in part as a result of the political revolution that Newt conceived and led."

"A cause that will conserve those first principles that made us the envy of the world ... must be led by someone who can forcefully make our basic case for the economy ... someone who is able to articulate the message of growth, free enterprise and freedom," Thompson said in the video. "I believe that Newt Gingrich is that person. Please join me and Newt in this effort to renew America's exceptionalism."

Upon learning of the endorsement from Thompson, Gingrich said, "It is an honor to receive the support of such a powerful voice for limited, constitutional government and economic freedom."

PHOTO: Actor Chuck Norris attends the 17th annual Movieguide faith and values award gala at the Beverly Hilton Hotel,Bevely Hills, Ca., Feb. 11, 2009.
Jason LaVeris/Getty Images

The day before the South Carolina primary, Chuck Norris wrote a column on the conservative website WND.com endorsing Newt Gingrich, saying he was the "best man left on the battlefield who is able to outwit, outplay and outlast Obama and his campaign machine."

Gingrich responded in a tweet the same day, saying, "Honored to have Chuck Norris' endorsement. He will make an excellent Secretary of Attack."

He followed up with a second tweet: "In all seriousness, Chuck is a great American and man of deep convictions. Very flattered."

Norris's column quoted Texas Gov. Rick Perry quoting famous Gen. Sam Houston, saying, "This mission is greater than any one man."

"I'm tired of watching our country being torn to shreds by those who think the answer is more government debt and control," Norris wrote. "Rome is burning, and we need to appoint the best firemen possible to rush in and put out her fury."

PHOTO: Randall Cunningham, center, is helped by aides as he arrives at the federal courthouse in San Diego for sentencing on his conviction for bribery and tax evasion.
Lenny Ignelzi/AP Photo

Not all endorsements are welcome, however, even if they are from a former House colleague.

Jailed ex-Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham, R-Calif., told Gingrich in a letter that he has the felon vote locked down.

In the letter, Cunningham, who is currently serving a 100-month sentence in federal prison on conspiracy and fraud charges, writes: "Newt, a voice out of the past. Down but not out and still fighting. First I do not want anything from you but have been watching the debates. I have 80 percent of inmates that would vote for you. They might not be able to but their extended families will."

He also offered Gingrich tips for fending off his principal opponent, Romney.

Cunningham, who has been referred to as one of the most corrupt congressmen in American history, ended his letter by acknowledging that his endorsement would most likely "do more harm than good."

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