Newt Gingrich announced this morning that he would be taking the weekend off in order to “pace” himself. So what will Newt be doing this weekend? He has a book signing scheduled in Virginia and then he will be attending his wife’s French horn concert. The only event Newt has scheduled is a tele-townhall Sunday evening.
With voting in Iowa being a mere 17 days away, it seems an odd time to take a weekend off. One would think that Newt, given his falling poll numbers, would be working feverishly (like the other candidates) to solidify his support and build a strong organization as we head into voting season. Apparently that’s not Newt’s top priority.
The question has been hinted at before by large media outlets but none have just come out and said it, “Does Gingrich even want to be president?” Or perhaps more appropriately, “Does Gingrich have the ‘fire in the belly’ to run for president and take on Obama in the fall?” Remember, Obama is going to have almost one billion dollars of campaign funds at his disposal to defeat the Republican challenger. Conservatives will need a highly motivated, energized and passionate candidate to challenge Obama.
Last summer Newt’s entire staff resigned in protest because, according to them, “Newt wasn’t taking running for president seriously.” Newt had disappeared for a week prior to the resignations and no one in his staff knew where Gingrich had gone. Only when Gingrich returned did they learn that Newt had been gone for a week on a luxury cruise through the Greek Isles with his wife. Understandably, Newt’s staff was furious at the candidate’s disregard for his own campaign. The staff later claimed that Newt seemed more concerned about selling books and DVD’s than running for president.
The New York Times recently wrote of the experience saying:
When Mr. Gingrich was an also-ran earlier in the year, there was speculation that he was mainly seeking to raise his value as an author and a paid television commentator. Observers pointed to Mike Huckabee, who won the 2008 Iowa caucuses, dropped out of the race soon after but ended up with his own Fox News show.
“Pat Buchanan perfected this process years ago,” said Rick Tyler, a former longtime aide and a co-writer with Mr. Gingrich. “Pat would go run for president and then get a better contract with CNN. Others picked up on it.”
Newt responded to these accusations from his staff by saying that he was running an “unconventional campaign” and a “solutions-oriented campaign.” After months of watching Gingrich on the trail, it appears that an “unconventional campaign” is simply a euphemism for a “publicity campaign” where the “solutions” for America are conveniently located in his many books and DVD’s which can be purchased at a very reasonable price. Mr. Gingrich has figured out that running for president doesn’t have to cost a lot of money if you do it the “right” way. In fact it can be very lucrative.
The New York Times goes on to say:
Experienced campaign strategists cannot recall a top-tier contender devoting so much time to pitching products while seeking the White House. Mitt Romney, who also has a book out, has never sold it while stumping, his campaign said. President Obama, a best-selling author in 2007, did not incorporate sales events into campaign appearances, according to a spokesman for his re-election committee.
Mr. Gingrich’s devotion to book-selling, Republican strategists said, raises questions about the propriety of a candidate who is generating personal income while seeking the White House, as well as whether he is making the optimum use of limited campaign time.
Conservatives need a candidate with the energy and drive to take on President Obama in the fall, not one that is going to take a break 17 days before voting season in order to “pace” himself. But more importantly, America needs a candidate who is more concerned with helping America rather than helping himself.