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Newt Gingrich: Too old and too out-of-touch to be President?

By SHANNON McCAFFREY
May 12, 2011

GOP Presidential wannabe Newt Gingrich (AFP)

When Newt Gingrich last held political office “Seinfeld” was a top-rated TV show. The Spice Girls ruled the pop charts. And pagers — not iPhones — were the must-have tech device.

Now, as the 67-year-old former U.S. House speaker enters the race for president, he faces the challenge of drawing on his rich resume of experience while rebranding himself for a restless Republican Party that seems hungry for a fresh face to take on the youthful and hip President Barack Obama.

“It’s the crux of his campaign,” former Gingrich aide Rich Galen says. “Can he escape being a symbol of the past?”

Or, rather, can what’s old become new again?

The image that Gingrich must shake is so deeply engrained in America that it made its way into a recent “Saturday Night Live” sketch.

“I love the ’90s!” says a Gingrich impersonator who blurted out just that one sentence.

The former Georgia congressman will be among the oldest candidates — if not the oldest — in a still-forming GOP field of politicians with far more recent political experience. Among those considering bids are Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, two darlings of the tea party.

Nostalgia may not be completely troublesome for him.

The economy was humming in the 1990s when he was speaker of the House. And the world seemed a safer place before the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

But Gingrich himself has a mixed legacy from those days.

Viewed by many as a masterful grass-roots strategist and message manipulator, he led Republicans to control of the House for the first time in four decades. Still, he’s remembered as much for his stormy fall — he faced ethics complaints and later resigned — as for his triumphant rise. And questions about his temperament still surface.

One of the best-known images of Gingrich from his days as speaker was the New York Daily News cover depicting him in a diaper pitching a tantrum after being barred from sitting up front with President Bill Clinton on Air Force One while returning from Israel. And his latest outbursts have raised eyebrows, including when he compared a mosque that was to open near ground zero in New York to Nazis putting a sign next to the Holocaust Museum.

As he geared up for a campaign, Gingrich allies have privately urged him to tone down the bomb-throwing rhetoric, arguing he should strive to be seen as the adult in the room presenting the battle-tested big ideas rather than a conservative firebrand who flies off the handle.

“If he can just get that Charlie Sheen self-discipline thing under control, Newt’s the type of candidate who has the potential to really fire up the room and fire up the base,” said former GOP strategist Dan Schnur, who now runs a political think tank at the University of Southern California.

Because Gingrich has shown a propensity to lose his cool, Schnur says, any slip on the campaign trail will be magnified: “He’s going to face an additional level of scrutiny.”

In recent weeks, Gingrich has toned down the bombast and kept a relatively low profile. He’s set to give an interview Wednesday night on Fox News Channel, explaining his rationale for a candidacy. He’ll give his first speech as a full-fledged candidate at the Georgia Republican Party’s convention in Macon on Friday.

His candidacy will hardly be a retro affair; he disclosed his presidential run using Facebook and Twitter.

His campaign manager, Rob Johnson, largely shunned bricks-and-mortar offices when he ran Republican Rick Perry’s 2010 gubernatorial bid in Texas, relying heavily instead on social networks.

And Gingrich himself is an avid consumer of new technology. His tax-exempt conservative group American Solutions for Winning the Future has tapped online dollars with huge success. Aides say Gingrich is the author of his own tweets. He also frequently promotes the need for online medical records and cutting-edge advances in energy.

“This is not someone trapped in the past,” says his longtime political adviser, Joe Gaylord. “He’s always embraced what’s new.”

Will a Gingrich reinvention stick with voters?

He has been an all-but-declared candidate for months now. And polls show Republicans unenthused — if not dissatisfied — with their presidential options. Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels is being pressured to run. Some Republicans also continue to court New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie even though he has said repeatedly he won’t seek the White House.

Republicans seem to be searching for someone that inspires the same excitement among the party base. It’s a thirst that seems especially pronounced in tea party groups.

“I like Newt, I do. But the issues we are facing are not 1990s vintage,” Mark Skoda, founder of a Memphis, Tenn., tea party organization. “As we saw with Barack Obama, there’s a desire for something fresh, for something new and dynamic.”

Gingrich himself knows that if the race becomes about his history, he’s unlikely to go very far. His past includes two divorces, marital infidelity and ethics allegations.

As he put it to one interviewer: “If the primary concern of the American people is my past, my candidacy would be irrelevant.”

He’ll find out in the coming months whether that’s the case.

___

McCaffrey covers Gingrich’s campaign for The Associated Press.

___

Online:

Gingrich: http://www.newtexplore2012.com.

Copyright © 2011 The Associated Press

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21 Responses to Newt Gingrich: Too old and too out-of-touch to be President?

  1. Sandune

    May 12, 2011 at 11:12 am

    It is not Speaker Gingrich’s age that gets to me but his inability to take himself out of any situation when America stands on the brink of disaster. When the day is over, will Gingrich come up with more evangelical excuses for his failures as a man, as a politician and as a Republican.

    I will never doubt his brilliance as a leader of men. I do doubt his ability to know good men from bad. In his mind, he is the only one who can kill Islam. Somehow he received a message that he can bomb the evil out of the world. Many Evangelicals claim to hear God’s instructions and somehow feel they have been given clearance to kill in the name of Jesus Christ.

    I was one of the first members of GOPAC until I did more research on the agenda of this new form of being a Republican. It does not represent my desires for a free party affiliation. It represents a new theocracy to remove less-than-white, less-than Christian American citizens. I hear his words daily in the senior groups in Arizona and California. He is the voice of leadership and there is a very good chance that he will take the primaries in several states including the bible belt.

    Newt pretty well screwed up his own life never giving a thought to anything outside his pants. The poor man is no less than Jerry Falwell trying to beg for forgiveness from God in front of every camera who will record it.

    Not even Don Juan would attempt to excuse his moral sins. He was an honest man and volumes of books, movies and operas have been written about his sexual personality. Newt Gingrich is the model of a weak man with no obvious soul or moral code. It is his abuse of Jesus Christ that I find more offensive than any book written about the great Don Giovanni. Don Juan supposedly died when the devil took him in a pyre of flames. I saw Pinza play this part and when he crashed in flames, I got the impression he felt it was worth every minute. Newt would crash in a mass of self pity with no twinkle in his eye.

    If this is in reality a Christian attitude that all the lies, torture, corruption and the abuse of several wedding vows are forgivable, , then I want a non-Christian to be considered for the White House.

    America again is in a crisis mode without a white leader who can bring us back to a normal attitude. How many more years do we have to put up with the bigotry and homophobia of the Conservative Right? Is this the real America? What happened to our American values of individual equality? Did I buy into a concept that was only a joke?

    How the hell can we get out of this mess? In my poor old worn out mind, I can think of nobody who could bring an end to America faster than Speaker Newt Gingrich. He apparently has forgiven himself for his ruination of his multiple families and that is has high as it goes in his world. His judgment is not good enough for me when it comes to the American people. He is drooling for the chance at bringing all women and gays into his world of making decisions.

    Are the American people waiting for the one leader who can tell us all how to act in our private lives? Maybe we don’t know right from wrong but why hand this off to a known sexual predator. I doubt rape ever played a part in his sleep partners but his reputation of a Don Juan built up list of contenders that grows to this day.

    I may be old but can still catch a hint of “the man under the grey suit” when it faces me. Newt is a very attractive man in person. It also trained many women to keep an eye on any man who knows his attraction to women. I’ve been around too many celebrities who used this attraction to win a part, a place on the ballot and who often have to resign when discovered by a wife or two.

  2. Keith

    May 12, 2011 at 11:58 am

    Sandune said:

    “Newt pretty well screwed up his own life never giving a thought to anything outside his pants. The poor man is no less than Jerry Falwell trying to beg for forgiveness from God in front of every camera who will record it.”

    ….which, in my humble opinion….will be his ultimate downfall.

    Clearly, the hypocrisy of this crowd’s so-called “Christian” beliefs (purported to be founded on principles of love, inclusiveness and acceptance, but which all too often manifest themselves as narrow intolerance for the beliefs and behavior of others) are now blatantly on display for the rest of the world to see.

    We must also remember that this is the same person who presided over the crucifixion of Bill Clinton for his extra-marital sexual dalliances at the same time he, himself, was engaging in EXACTLY the same behavior.

    I’ve also found it fascinating that our culture will blissfully allow all manner of illegal shenanigans to be perpetrated by our elected officials, both in and out of office. But just let one of them be found with a certain part of their anatomies in the help and all hell breaks loose.

    We are a nation that supposedly prides itself in allowing personal freedom and social “enlightenment”. Yet we continue to allow an ever-shrinking minority of tongue-wagging, hypocrite politicians like Newt Gingrich to obsessively foist their horribly misplaced moral agendas on the rest of us.

  3. Siannan

    May 12, 2011 at 1:49 pm

    Why does it have to be a white leader?

    Oh. Sorry. I should know better.

  4. Al

    May 12, 2011 at 2:10 pm

    Well said, Keith! Though he reminds me more of the hypocrisy of Jimmy Swaggert.

    Sandune, I am often on the opposite side of the fence from you politically, it seems. Yet I find that we also often have very similar opinions. Newt (the little slimy lizard) was the one who proffered the “Contract with America”, which in my opinion, was really a “Contract ON America”! Also, he is the lying, self-serving SOB who served his wife with divorce papers while she was being wheeled from the hospital recovery room to her room, having just had a mastectomy because of breast cancer. Having stood by my own wife during her bout with breast cancer, two separate mastectomies and chemo, I have nothing but contempt for Newt. May he rot in the Hell of his own making.

    Al

  5. Sandune

    May 12, 2011 at 2:40 pm

    Siannan. All I have heard from people around me and on the internet is that our current President doesn’t look like the rest of us. There are many Conservatives who have stated that African Americans are not the core of American humans. Where have you been if this is a shock to you?

    Keith, there is nothing illegal about cheating on one’s wife. The religious right would like to see a Constitutional law making adultery illegal. This of course will follow abortions and gay marriages added to the prohibitions.

    In my world, adultery is legal but I also have my own priorities when it comes to the law. Personally I would probably not want an abortion unless my family’s health or mine would be in jeopardy. I have no grounds to prohibit any such action for anyone else.

    This whole mess is what America deserves when they cannot make personal laws and keep them. We are more than happy to wait and see what laws the new President will demand.

    Of course Gingrich put Clinton through the wringer. It is none of Newt’s business who Clinton sleeps with. Someone should tell the voters that the tabloids found in the super market may not be the best place to pick up news.

    When millions of Americans cannot determine the laws by which they live, the government will be more than happy to add them for all of us. I hate the concept that some fool like Bush/Cheney and Newt try to set the laws for my personal actions.

    But on this CHB site, I am very unpopular for my opinions because I go around the government when it comes to personal laws. I had my moral concepts set in cement by the age of 12 and there is no reason to change for someone Else’s opinions. I am not the least worried about the sex lives of anyone in or out of office. The people demand a level of control by the government that does not exist.

    Make your own rules and regulations instead of using threats on others. If all Americans were the perfect models of what can only be imagined, there would be a world made up of well-programmed Stepford wives. Where’s the drama? Where’s t he tragedy? Where’s the compassion? You want a story line without minor chords. I love minor chords as they grab my emotions. If you want a world made up of no regret; how the hell do you know if you are even happy?

  6. Sandune

    May 12, 2011 at 3:04 pm

    Al, if you want the federal government to declare a war on adultery; do it without me. I cannot help to straighten you out on the political policies that I want. There was much about the Contract that made good sense at the time they were written. It’s over and there is no point in arguing about it.

    I take the time and make the effort to look at other nations who turned their citizens into what the government wanted. If the government was looking for a theocracy, it had been tried for hundreds of years and only brought on wars between the gods. Is this your bag? Will you be willing to change our laws to accepr the Social Prohibitions that you seem to want?

    Wheree is the “you” in your words? The only thing I want from any level of government is to let them allow me the choice of making mistakes.Right away you will assign me laws of theft, and reputation assaults.

    I want the government out of health care 100% I want the churches to lose their income tax deductoion classifications until our debts are paid. There is not a single candidate running that would allow the American people to live and support themselves without big daddy. Looks like you are winning the debates,

    If you decide to work against Newt, you had better have something more than hypocrisy; as Newt, like all church leaders, thrive on hypocrisy.

  7. Siannan

    May 12, 2011 at 4:03 pm

    Jeez, you think 300 years of white men doing bad jobs governing this country is better? Cause I sure don’t.

    But nice if you to point out that African American’s don’t look like us. That’s mighty white of you.

  8. Sandune

    May 12, 2011 at 5:46 pm

    I am quoting others who have related to me in person and online that Obama is not a white Christian. As a matter of actual fact, I am not a white Christian. The color of my skin is “mocha” and it bothers many who want to know why I am not white….

    I would explain my blood lines except you are determined to see the worst in everyone. I was not a supporter of Obama but only because he is a Democrat who is determined to redistribute the wealth making everyone financially equal. This will do nothing to fix the problem of our outsourcing or fix our treaty agreements. It will take more than a change of skin color to cut through the GOP determination to force everyone into a Christian doctrine and church. To the majority of Americans, the sooner we look alike and vote together as a single party and divide up the spoils of our wars the better America will be.

    There is no room for individuality in America and apparently little room here at CHB.

    • Siannan

      May 13, 2011 at 8:56 am

      I’ve seen photos of you. I’m aware you are not a white Christian. However, perpetuating the nonsense of people who dislike the president because he’s not white and helping those same people promote the lie that he’s also not a Christian when he has said repeatedly that he is, is also disengenous.

      I was also not a supporter of Obama. In point of fact, when I noted that my college age daughter referred to him as an empty suit, several people here opined that I obviously raised an idiot. Since my daughter maintains a 3.85 GPA at Rutgers University, I’m pretty sure she’s not an idiot.

      I do not see the worst in everyone, but if you wish to believe that, so be it. I just believe it’s pointless to repeat obvious, irrevelant nonsense (not a Christian, doesn’t have a real birth certificate, blah, blah, blah) in order to discredit someone we would hope to succeed.

      As for the problem of outsourcing, that can hardly be laid at the feet of Mr. Obama, considering the practice got started many years early (some would opin during Bush I and accelerated into high gear during Bush II). Either way, it is the companies who are outsourcing to their benefit and our loss.

      My husband served in the Air Force for 20 years and upon his retirement, got a full time job. He works his ass off for whatever company he has worked for, but he also expects to be paid for his skills. Two years ago, he was laid off to make “the bottom line” more palatable. He is 50 years old and every job interview he has been on, he has heard that he is “over qualified” which is lingo for “paying you hurts our bottom line even though we know you will do superb work for us”. These companies want him to accept $12/hour instead of the $30/hour he was making when he was laid off.

      Oh, and the people they can hire for $12, can’t do the work.

      • Siannan

        May 13, 2011 at 9:00 am

        P.S. Pardon my spelling: I meant irrelevant and disingenous.

        Also, I’m not a Christian either.

  9. Pondering_It_All

    May 12, 2011 at 7:17 pm

    There is some speculation out there (for example, on Slate) that Newt’s run for president has more to do with the fact that he has a huge money-raising operation, than with him thinking he has any chance of winning: He can’t win, for various well-known reasons, but it makes it much easier for him to keep collecting other people’s money!

    When you come right down it, it’s a scam.

  10. Al

    May 12, 2011 at 8:13 pm

    Sandune,

    It is NOT a law against adultery that I want. That would only be, or lead to, tyranny. What I want, in vain it seems, is for people to have values that include, among many others, loyalty.
    Theocracies only lead to an Iran- style situation.

  11. woody188

    May 12, 2011 at 8:18 pm

    Too old and too out-of-touch to be President?

    No, too dishonest and unethical.

  12. Keith

    May 12, 2011 at 8:32 pm

    Al said, “It is NOT a law against adultery that I want. That would only be, or lead to, tyranny. What I want, in vain it seems, is for people to have values that include, among many others, loyalty.”

    Unfortunately, Al, “loyalty” can’t be legislated.

    • Siannan

      May 13, 2011 at 10:35 am

      Neither can morality, but the Religious Right is desperately trying to do it.

  13. Carl Nemo

    May 12, 2011 at 8:33 pm

    Gingrich, a retread is just another MSM proffered distraction on the way to placing whomever the true ‘chosen one’ might be in the White House job. More than likely they’ll settle for Obama again since he seems to know how to dance well to the tune of his corporate masters. The shadowy oligarchs really don’t care since they own both parties, lock stock and barrel. All they expect is loyalty and obedience to their marching orders. The bottomline is the making of evermore $$, the health of the nation state once known as the USA be damned.

    Elections are sham in this country. The controllers preselect, distract and ‘allow’ the unwashed masses simply to indemnify their duty ‘main man’ at the polls.

    All the noise we’ll collectively generate on this subject til November 2012 is for naught. It simply doesn’t matter. They win, “We the People” always lose in these end times for the Republic. : |

    Carl Nemo **==

  14. Sandune

    May 13, 2011 at 10:42 am

    There are many things morally, legally and nationally wrong in America. Much of it was opened to all of us after President Obama was inaugurated. I was personally shocked at the amount of racism that was brought about from close friends and cohorts in my work as a commentator and it sent me reeling. My hope in the GOP was destroyed when I realized the RNC has become a group of individualists who had no room for individual freedoms. I reported my own experiences with this horrible condition. Apparently it appears as if I was promoting their plans. The whole damn dirty mess is now open for all Americans to finally get what they want in government. The Tea Party spoke out and listened to “leaders” like Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh and the crowd at Fox News. Suddenly names, like Sarah Palin, Donald Trump and the latest from Ron Paul who all had plans set to change the attitude in America and sadly, the color of our leader’s skin.

    There was a single issue from all these people on the right and it was a move to reduce women’s choices and keep the Gays in the closet. It has morphed into a movement to clear our nation of Muslims. Not a day goes by when another load of lies comes out of the Bush 43 Administration trying to disgrace President Obama. This is all legal even when proven to be slanderous lies.

    It started when Gingrich went after Clinton. Adultery triggered volumes of lies based on Clinton’s Liberal politics. It also triggered a mass of Conservative Congress members to break most of the 10 Commandments including homosexuality, adultery, extortion, abusing their positions of legal representation and finally abusing their religion. I’m speaking of “c” Street Christian Center that covered their adulterous butts through the use of their 501(c)(3) place of residence..

    The attitude among these social conservatives is that all is fair in winning elections. The churches are raking in federal grants and the Senate has been hit by reality that they must keep their pants on.

    Our homes and businesses have lost their value and a million or so people are out of work and homeless. I have been asking all Americans to look into the voting records of their congress-critters but they would rather blame the government rather than eliminate those people who sold us a bill of goods. Every damn thing we whine about here is caused by a runaway congress. Bush 41 wrote NAFTA that was obviously a plea for world power. Bush lost his election thanks to Perot who exposed his plan. But the voters didn’t like Perot’s presentations. Clinton picked up NAFTA but it was the Congress who passed it and world power killed our own manufacturing. It took a Conservative President to being down our housing costs. The banks were under no control to take the mortgages and make them of zero value. This is where the Congress blew it. Bush send one bill after another to protect OPEC and make billionaires out of our American oil companies.

    Our Federal Government has three equal divisions and our Congress backed away from the responsibility of control. “We the People” cut out and was too damn lazy to learn what the government was doing to us.

    We are left with several choices for our future. The GOP has left the game in search of a power greater than the sum of the voters. They have reverted back to the bible and when one of their leaders is caught in the sack is used as power for God’s forgiveness.

    One would have to go back in history to recognize how the power of a spiritual ghost came into being. Well okay, let’s put up with that as there is nothing anyone can do about it. This is the GOP that I joined at the age of 21.

    They got their changes in the last election only to rile up their own voters into issuing repeals for the results of that election. For me, there is no more choices. America is ready for Socialism. We have no choice. Our jobs and property are all shaky. Our American people are going hungry and of ill health. We have no other choice than to nod to the government to take over everything just like the rest of Europe. Hell, let them have the churches too. Tear up the Constitution because it has become just another piece of paper..

    Slowly our nation who led the world in just about everything is giving up. The voters have no concept of right over wrong and should lose their rights to vote. I will not vote for socialism nor a theocracy so I will for the first time, stay home. .

    I have a natural curiosity about our leaders and a sorrier lot would be hard to find, The truth about the Daniels family will be found and his wife will be rejected as a first lady. She will throw her tears around and beg for forgiveness and be one more stone thrown at the White House. She might even get on a cross. I’m sick of this occult witchcraft as it never even touches on right over wrong.

    I see a vision of my once proud Political Party suddenly being blown away and turning into a load of bats pooping on our government. Picasso had it right!

    Siannan, I am glad to know your background as you have rewritten mine. I don’t care. I have never changed my agenda but there is no place where it will ever fit.

    • Siannan

      May 13, 2011 at 11:09 am

      Touche’. We understand each other then. All is good here, if not anywhere else.

  15. bogofree

    May 13, 2011 at 4:20 pm

    Newt? Check out how much his committee has collected. That should explain how much support he has. Father Guido Sarducci stands a better chance. Heck….even Sarah Palin stands a better chance.

  16. Sandune

    May 13, 2011 at 8:49 pm

    Siannan, when it comes down to how someone as disappointed with the GOP as I am; I am going to have to rethink the endgame of this next election. There is no Republican party left and apparently no third party has the ability to see the need for one. The average American voter has no imagination outside of the two party system. It confuses millions who would rather lose our freedoms than to locate a candidate who will work for the individuals. They don’t care enough to read, or even discuss the situation. Trying to research any part of the coming elections is too much to ask. These people do what they are told from their family members, their clergy, their employees/employers and even on the evening news. Being raised on sitcoms trained them to hold off an opinion in search of a laugh track.

    I had a woman look me in the eye and tell me she will vote for Palin because Palin will not hesitate to tell the government to phuck off. This women is a devout Christian from Kansas and managed to turn off her brain years ago. If I thought these forums were tough to deal with, I should have mingled with my neighbors sooner.

    I raised my kids to stand firm when they have an opinion and if it does not meld well with their friends, to simply stand taller and speak louder. The most important message I could hand my kids was to think, analyze and decide those issues that will matter either in their daily lives or when they vote. There was and is no reason to mention skin color, basic ethnic roots or even IQ scores. To set this in cement my kids agreed to try for Berkeley the most Liberal University in California, Both girls made it but my older girl transferred to Santa Cruz halfway through her first term. I got back some heavy duty thinkers. Whether we agree is of no interest to anyone.

    My youngest “J.J. MacNab” will be on “60 Minutes” on Sunday night. She has done some research on the “Sovereign Nation” members. In her work she has been threatened by a level of dishonest pissed off Americans and I am pleased that her husband has made a bastion of safety around their house. She has been undercover and has chosen to use my maiden name in place of her own. She is in her mid 40s and has a mind of her own. This is not her first television exposure as CSPAN gave her 40 Minutes a couple of years ago and she did very will. My older has a degree in Psychology and has worked for years with abused children. She is 54 and just lost her husband to brain cancer. My son is the clown and works in the movie industry building flying saucers. His two kids got married in July and I was in the hospital and missed the ceremony. It was a civil ceremony done a week apart but they used a Malibu Ranch and the photos are fabulous.

    You see, we do share the values of our children. Nothing is more important to me than the happiness of my kids. I have no idea how they vote or who they support. We all work to support the gay community in California as this is the ultimate act of freedom. I have never heard a bigoted word from any of them. They never heard one from me. We are all animal lovers with homes filled with pets and stray animals. I take the ones that nobody wants and have a house for black cats. I like to look at black cats as they have the exotic look missing in my kids. We hace the map of Scotland in our bodies. Even my grandkids are half Irish. All are married to Jewish mates……I love it! The holidays are fantastic.

    My grandmother and I got a strange skin coloe. The two of us could be the result of one of our ancesters bringing home an American indian infant (Cherokee) and married her to one of his kids from one of his wives. Neither one of us can hold a drink.

  17. bogofree

    May 14, 2011 at 7:33 am

    Newt manages to make Mitt look like a viable choice.