Gingrich’s speakership led to a historic lack of confidence from Republican leaders and the rank and file. In 1997, nine Republican members of the House refused to support Gingrich’s re-election to the speakership and the GOP leadership rallied barely enough votes to keep Gingrich in office. In July of that year, Gingrich faced a coup from his top lieutenants that collapsed due to incompetence. After the 1998 elections, Gingrich was forced to step aside.
3) Washington Insider:
Gingrich does not shy away from being a Washington insider. He responded to criticism of his work for Freddie Mac and the Washington insider label by stating that we need to elect someone who knows how Washington works in order to change Washington.
Conservatives have reason to be wary of this idea for a number of reasons, not the least of which is Gingrich’s flawed record as speaker, suggesting that his success at changing Washington has been slipshod at best, and that his career tendency has been to go along rather than address tough issues when called for.
In an October debate, while Gingrich lauded Herman Cain for proposing his 9-9-9 tax plan, Gingrich cautioned, “Change on this scale takes years to think through if you’re going to do it right.” It’s worth noting that sixteen years ago, Gingrich appointed Cain to Jack Kemp’s tax commission and since then several other tax reform commissions have been appointed. How many more years do we need to “think through” tax reform until we actually do something significant? It is standard Washington tactics to kick big issues down the road for others to deal with, and Gingrich is too big a part of that system to change it.
4) Betraying Conservatives on Key Issues:
Newt Gingrich threw himself into backing liberal Republican Dede Scozzafava while conservatives and tea party groups were rallying around Conservative Doug Hoffman. Gingrich scolded conservative activists for backing Hoffman. Hoffman, for his part, is forgiving of the whole thing and urges Republicans not to hold Gingrich’s action against him. While this is kind of Mr. Hoffman, conservatives would do well to ignore the advice because Gingrich’s belligerent defense of Scozzafava is part of a larger pattern of key betrayals of conservative interests.
While Gingrich was speaker, he and the NRCC were notorious for backing liberal Republicans over conservatives. For example, in 1997, Gingrich recruited liberal state Assemblyman Brook Firestone and supported him over conservative Tom Bordonaro in a special congressional election. Primary voters in the district rejected Firestone as well as Gingrich and company’s attempts to play kingmaker.
In addition to endorsements for liberal Republicans, Gingrich has been more than willing to endorse liberal causes. Among examples of this are the famous ad of him sitting on a couch with Nancy Pelosi calling for government action to address climate change and his letter in support of Bush’s immigration reform, which many conservatives labeled amnesty. When Gingrich opposes conservatives, he tends to do it in a very dramatic way that’s very belligerent to conservatives who disagree with him.
Conservatives betting on Gingrich have to hope that something has changed Gingrich over the past thirteen years that will transform him into someone who can not only talk about conservative ideas, but can implement conservative solutions. Given the totality of the Gingrich record, this is a bad bet.