Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Gingrich: The Latest GOP Frontrunner

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A recent CNN/Opinion Research Poll has placed former House Speaker Newt Gingrich near the top of the polls, just behind frontrunner Mitt Romney, while a Public Policy Polling Survey shows Gingrich ahead of Romney. The results were somewhat surprising, as Gingrich has ranked extremely low in past polls, but seem to prove what The New American’s Thomas Eddlem predicted would be the next trend of the GOP presidential race. According to Eddlem, despite Romney’s steady frontrunner status, the GOP is not entirely enthralled with him and is on a never-ending quest for an alternative. It began first with Perry, followed by Cain, and now as the polls prove, it appears to be Gingrich.

According to CNN’s poll, Gingrich has garnered 22 percent of the vote, with Romney at 24 percent, Cain at 14 percent and Perry sitting at 12 percent. That same poll reveals that more Republicans agree with Gingrich on the issues, 76 percent, than with Rick Perry (53 percent), Mitt Romney (70 percent), or Herman Cain (61 percent).

According to the Public Policy Poll, however, Gingrich is comfortably ahead of Romney, with 28 percent support, while Romney earned just 18 percent. In that same poll, Cain earns 25 percent of the support.

PPP writes:

Gingrich’s lead caps an amazing comeback he’s made over the last 5 months. In June, his favorability nationally with Republican voters plummeted all the way to 36/49. Now he’s at 68/23, representing a 58 point improvement in his spread since then. As recently as August, Gingrich was mired in single digits at 7 percent and even in September he was at just 10 percent. He’s climbed 18 points in less than two months.

Likewise, if Cain continues to lose support among Republican voters, as he has already dropped by five points in some of the polls, Gingrich’s favorability is likely to grow. Among Cain’s supporters, 73 percent have a favorable opinion of Newt Gingrich. In fact, Cain’s supporters have significantly more favorability towards Gingrich than toward any other GOP contender.

Additionally, a Bloomberg News poll shows that Herman Cain, Ron Paul, Mitt Romney, and Newt Gingrich are in a dead heat amongst Iowans who are most likely to attend the January 3 Republican presidential caucuses. That poll shows Cain at 20 percent, Paul at 19 percent, Romney at 18 percent, and Gingrich at 17 percent.

Gingrich has typically performed well in the Republican debates, unwilling to allow the debate moderators to turn him against any of his colleagues or draw him into any mudslinging on stage. He continuously has attempted to redirect the attention of the moderators as well as that of the audience to the issues, and not the campaign dramas, and for that reason alone has presented himself as a likeable presence on stage.

For some it is not surprising to see Gingrich rise in the polls in this fashion. Kurt Nimmo notes, “Gingrich is the candidate of choice for the neocon faction of the ruling elite. While fellow presidential contenders Romney, Perry and Santorum have all called for attacking Iran in response to allegations the Islamic country is building nuclear weapons, Gingrich has offered a number of specific actions, including bombing its major oil refinery, and assassinating its nuclear scientists.”

Last month, Gingrich articulated his support for a full-fledged war against Iran. “I think our goal should be the replacement of the Iranian dictatorship with a maximum amount of effort to arouse students, arouse young people, arouse ethnic dissent, to finance every possible element of opposition, to build a radio and television free Iran, and to apply every possible economic sanction, including, if necessary, cutting off gasoline,” he told CNN.

Gingrich asserted that the United States should utilize “all the techniques that President Reagan, Prime Minister Thatcher, and Pope John Paul II used to destroy the Soviet empire,” i.e., CIA covert tactics which ultimately created new enemies of the United States. Nimmo writes, “The conflict produced a new array of enemies of the empire to wage an interminable war against, most notably al-Qaeda and the Taliban, both culled from the ranks of the CIA-ISI spawned anti-Soviet Mujahideen."

Oddly enough, Gingrich has a surprising amount of support among Tea Partiers, notes PPP, reporting that Gingrich’s favorability amongst Tea Partiers is 81/14, while Romney’s is just 43/45. More than likely it is because Gingrich’s talking points have lately begun to sound more like Ron Paul’s, with his criticisms of the Federal Reserve and his assertions that the Constitution should be respected as the supreme law of the land.

However, as Eddlem observed, despite Gingrich’s best efforts, he is no Tea Party conservative. For example, Eddlem writes that Gingrich “has a long history of supporting the same government healthcare mandates in RomneyCare and ObamaCare,” even though Gingrich has campaigned on the pledge to repeal ObamaCare. Likewise, Gingrich was a supporter of the Wall Street bailouts and TARP, as well as the bailout of the Mexican peso, and campaigned on behalf of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Despite the failure of the ethanol subsidies, Gingrich has been a leading advocate for them, and has even pushed for what he calls “green conservatism,” asserting that it is the role of the federal government to “finance cleaner energy research and projects with new oil and gas royalties.” Furthermore, during Gingrich’s reign as Speaker of the House, federal spending increased from $1.227 trillion to $1.383 trillion, while federal tax receipts increased by over 50 percent. After Gingrich served as Speaker of the House, he became a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, which was a key advocate of the invasion of Iraq.

Gingrich’s military sights do not rest only on Iran. He told Fox News’ Greta Van Susteren in 2006, “I think we’re seeing around the world an emerging Third World War from North Korea to Pakistan to India to Afghanistan to Iraq and Iran to the increasing alliance between Venezuela and Iran to the British terrorists who are getting trained in Pakistan.”

This record does not a Tea Party "conservative" make.

Whether Gingrich’s newfound popularity will be the next flash in the pan remains to be seen, but given the changing polling numbers over the course of the last few months, nothing is apparently set in stone. Meanwhile, supporters of other GOP contenders should not lose hope. As noted by PPP, “If there’s any sign of hope for Perry and the other non-Gingrich/Cain/Romney voters it might be the rise of Gingrich. Gingrich has gained 18 points in only 2 months, suggesting that someone else might be capable of gaining 18 points in the 2 months before Iowa as well.”


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