I’ll just publish the thing in toto and then comment at the end.
Republicans Who Served With Gingrich, On His Leadership Abilities:
Former Missouri Senator Jim Talent: Gingrich Is “Not A Reliable And Trusted Conservative Leader Because He’s Not A Reliable Or Trustworthy Leader.” (Mark Halperin, “Transcript: Gov. John Sununu And Sen. Jim Talent Press Conference Call,” Time Magazine, 12/8/11)
Oklahoma Senator Tom Coburn: “I’m Not Inclined To Be A Supporter Of Newt Gingrich’s Having Served Under Him For Four Years And Experienced Personally His Leadership. I Found It Lacking Often Times.” (Alexander Burns, “Tom Coburn, Still Not A Newt Gingrich Fan,” Politico, 12/4/11)
New York Representative Peter King: “Newt Would Do What Is Best For The Country. His Problem Is He Often Equates What’s Best For Him As What’s Best For The Country.” (Reid Pillifant, “Pete King: Gingrich Is Condescending, Undisciplined, And Bad For The GOP,” Capital New York, 12/2/11)
- King: “I Just Found Him To Be Too Much Putting Himself At The Center Of Whatever He Was Trying To Do.” (Reid Pillifant, “Pete King: Gingrich Is Condescending, Undisciplined, And Bad For The GOP,” Capital New York, 12/2/11)
Former New York Representative Susan Molinari: “[Gingrich] Has These Visions Of Grandiosity.” (Nancy Cordes, “Gingrich Has His Critics Among GOP Members,” CBS News, 12/7/11)
- Molinari: “Even Though Newt Liked To Talk About Team-Building And Quality Management, The Theory He Really Subscribed To Was Management By Chaos.” “‘But even though Newt liked to talk about team-building and quality management, the theory he really subscribed to was management by chaos. He loved chaos, and even when he didn’t create it knowingly and intentionally, he managed to leave it in his wake after every meeting, after every press conference, after every phone call’” Molinari wrote.” (William Douglas, “When Gingrich Held Power, His GOP Lieutenants Tried To Topple Him,” McClatchy , 12/7/11)
North Carolina Senator Richard Burr: “He’s A Guy Of 1,000 Ideas, And The Attention Span Of A 1-Year-Old … His Discipline And His Attention To Any Individual Thing Is Not His Strong Suit.” (Cameron Joseph, “Republican Lawmakers Shun Gingrich’s Presidential Bid,” The Hill, 11/24/11)
Ohio Representative Steve LaTourette On Gingrich’s Leadership: “Everything Always Seemed To Be On Fire.” “Personally, LaTourette said, he has a ‘hangover’ from the days of Gingrich’s speakership, when ‘everything always seemed to be on fire.’” (Laurie Kellman, “Gingrich Surge Unnerves Some Republican Lawmakers,” The Associated Press, 12/8/11)
A Look Back At Speaker Gingrich’s Time As Leader Of The House:
“His Own Conservative Republican Lieutenants Rebelled Against His Rule.” “As Gingrich seeks to gain the world’s most powerful office, it’s worth recalling that when he once held great power in Washington, his own conservative Republican lieutenants rebelled against his rule less than four years after he led them to House majority status for the first time in 40 years. And their disaffection evidently helped persuade him to step down as speaker the next year and leave office.” (William Douglas, “When Gingrich Held Power, His GOP Lieutenants Tried To Topple Him,” McClatchy, 12/7/11)
“[Gingrich] Was Viewed As A Micromanager Who Had Trouble Delegating And Who Lacked Organizational Skills.” “Gingrich as Speaker — and since then, some critics would argue — opined on any subject that struck his fancy, often changed directions after convincing the Republican Conference to support a particular political message, was viewed as a micromanager who had trouble delegating and who lacked organizational skills, and was tagged as arrogant, divisive and unlikable outside the GOP base. As a well-known public figure, Gingrich would have to work to undo this last definition in particular.” (David M. Drucker, “Lack Of Discipline Could Bite Gingrich,” Roll Call, 12/5/11)
Gingrich “Was A Managerial Disaster, A Mercurial Force Of Nature Who Bubbled With Ideas But Lacked Discipline.” “Long before Newt Gingrich became speaker of the House, his closest Republican allies knew he was a managerial disaster, a mercurial force of nature who bubbled with ideas but lacked discipline. Their assessment explains why many Republicans who have dealt with Gingrich over the years exhibit almost feral anxiety about what a Gingrich general-election campaign–let alone, a presidency–would be like.” (Major Garrett, “Gingrich: Managerial Disaster?” National Journal/The Atlantic, 12/9/11)
Earlier Team Mitt rolled out John Sununu and Sen. Lindsay Graham to blast Newt, but they seem to realize that that was likely to backfire. The one major clash involving Gingrich and Sununu had the latter on the side of raising taxes, Gingrich opposed, the taxes got raised and the presidency of George H. W. Bush was destroyed. Advantage: Newt. As for Graham, the base outside South Carolina is very suspicious of him, when he’s not calling us “bigots” for opposing amnesty, at which time feelings go from suspicion to war. These two aren’t the base-reaching types.
It’s a little harder to dismiss Jim Talent, Tom Coburn and Peter King.
That said, Mitt’s making at least two mistakes here. One, he’s taking the plunge to go negative first. He doesn’t have much choice, given the timing of Newt’s surge, but going negative first invites the valkyries in response. Newt doesn’t have to play nice guy anymore. The second mistake he’s making is to assume that a substantive argument will resonate. The above amounts to a substantive argument based on serious testimonials that Gingrich is unfit to lead. Substance has had very little to do with the primary so far. Out of desperation? zeal? to defeat Obama, the GOP primary electorate is paying very little attention to substance, and a whole lot of attention to style. Romney can roll out attacks like this one all day long, and all Gingrich has to do is hit back with “Well, when I was in Congress, Romney was running to the left of Ted Kennedy.” Advantage: Newt. It’s almost too easy for someone as sharp as Gingrich is.
Assuming that Gingrich wins the nomination, though, Romney’s entire press release becomes a boon to the Democrats, as it gets thrown in Gingrich’s face and is used to divide the GOP. The media will see to that last part by calling up everyone quoted and trying to get them to repudiate either their quote, or criticize their nominee.
Instead of going negative, Romney could try reaching out to the conservative blogosphere — rather than, say, Talking Points Memo and Mother Jones — but as we’ve noted here before, that didn’t work for him in 2008, so he’s unlikely to do it now. He’ll keep going negative on Newt, he’ll keep talking to opinion journalists who hate everything to the right of your average occupy-supporting university professor, and he’ll keep rolling out endorsements from ambassadors no one’s ever heard of, right up to Super Tuesday.