Tuesday, June 06, 2006


He's Baaaaack!!!! (Kinda)

Hot on the heels of Newt Gingrich's surprising first-place showing this weekend in a straw poll vote of Minnesota Republicans, The Washington Times assesses what it might mean:

The best way to analyze Mr. Gingrich's "win" is to say that it doesn't look particularly good at this point for Beltway Republicans considering a presidential run.

That's because any Republican candidate has to get past the primaries, which are dominated by the conservative base. And on the three major issues hurting Republicans right now -- particularly corruption, spending and immigration -- Mr. Gingrich has recently been out in public siding with conservatives. On the Abramoff scandal: "You can't have a corrupt lobbyist unless you have a corrupt member [of Congress]." On spending: House Speaker Dennis Hastert's "recent statement that the Senate [budget] bill is so outrageously too big that the House won't even conference on it was exactly right." On immigration: "The Senate bill is an absolute disaster."
Given that the Times editorial page is edited by the former speaker's former press secretary (and my former immediate boss), Tony Blankley, I wouldn't be surprised if this edit sparks an entire cottage-industry of tea-leave readers.

Regardless, I think the basic conclusion is right: Inside-the-Beltway candidates are toxic right now (because of both policy and ethics missteps), at least on the GOP side; that may or may change a year or so from now. However, in the short term, this means an outsider like a Gingrich (or a Rudy Giuliani) may have a stronger advantage than a John McCain, George Allen, Bill Frist or other congressional Republicans (one notable exception would be Tom Tancredo who has staked out the farthest anti-immigration position).

But, hey, wouldn't a Hillary Clinton vs. Newt Gingrich 2008 match-up be fun?

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