The PJ Tatler

Newt's New Line Against Romney Will Move Zero Votes

This is among the problems with the Gingrich candidacy. He comes up with cute lines and ideas that ultimately don’t move the needle.

Newt Gingrich is trying to challenge the notion that Mitt Romney is the most electable candidate in the GOP field.

“Why would you want to nominate the guy who lost to the guy who lost to Obama?” Newt asked a standing-room only crowd in Myrtle Beach, S.C.

Gingrich argued that the only reason people see Romney as the most electable is because he’s raised the most “Wall Street money” to run advertisements.

Also: He’s a familiar face and leads in the polls.

Gingrich then challenged Romney to a 90-minute, one-on-one debate “anywhere in the state” of South Carolina on Friday night. He said they could sell $10 tickets and donate the proceeds to the charity of Romney’s choosing.

“There is zero chance he’ll take it,” Gingrich said. “He won’t debate and the reason is simple, he can’t defend his record as governor.”

That last part is more right than wrong, but Gingrich’s lead-in – don’t nominate the guy who lost to McCain – won’t move anybody anywhere to re-think their support for Romney. It just won’t. People aren’t even voting on the candidates’ records in office. Why should anyone think they’ll vote based on how the candidate did in his first shot at the nomination? It’s logical but ultimately unpersuasive.

I don’t like this failing up into the presidency, let’s just nominate the next guy in line schtick that the GOP tends to do. (I don’t like the Democrats’ nominating a candidate with no relevant experience at all, either.) But there’s no evidence that mine is the dominant view among Republican voters. Name ID and pithy debate performance are trumping records everywhere. Win-loss records in previous elections and in office don’t seem to mean a whole lot.

Besides, Republicans have had two somewhat recent experiences in nominating the guy who lost the primary last time, and that nominee won. Their names are Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush.

Update: Meanwhile, Gingrich nearly misses a scheduled event in South Carolina. That might move a few votes.