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Rick Santorum: “Grandiosity Has Never Been A Problem With Newt Gingrich”

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Gingrich attacked CNN. Santorum attacked Newt. Romney attacked Obama.

CNN opened its post-debate coverage with the short clip of Rick Santorum saying “Grandiosity has never been a problem with Newt Gingrich,” and just as they had when Santorum first said it in the debate, Team Romney must have cheered in their gathering room, and the Chicago gang must have sighed. That clip will play over and over again in SuperPac ads that aren’t paid for by Santorum because it conveys in succinct fashion all the messages that all of Newt’s critics have been sending from the moment the former Speaker denounced Paul Ryan’s Medicare plan as “right wing social engineering” to Newt’s more recent attacks on free enterprise.

“You’re right,” Newt replied. “I think grandiose thoughts.”

And there you have it. Newt absolutely loves being the center of attention, and in this regard he does indeed resemble President Obama in self-regard. His ability to consistently thrash MSMers fuels Newt’s confidence that he could crush the president in debates. (Debates, by the way, that I am beginning to doubt Obama will agree to with any of the GOP contenders given how well each of them does in these settings and how the president’s at-best unproven skills –Senator McCain was simply terrible in the fall debates– appear to have declined under the weight of his high self-regard for his own world-historicalness.)

Whatever voters in South Carolina decide it increasingly appears that Mitt Romney will be the nominee as all Republicans from center-right to very conservative seek for the nominee who can win, not debates with MSM moderators, but an election against Barack Obama. My Townhall.com column yesterday went through the specifics of the 13 state election ahead, and of the example of the polling data from crucial Ohio. A national election in deeply troubled times cannot be won by grandiosity, but by sober, specific, competent plans communicated by a confident, experienced leader of accomplishment and character. I think a Gingrich-Romney-Santorum set of debates about the world and how America ought to face it would be very good, but another two hours without mention Iran, Syria, Pakistan’s nukes and the grave threats to Israel serves no purpose at all. The MSM simply cannot be trusted to be serious because to be serious is to quietly impeach the president for his gravest errors. Romney should announce that he will debate Gingrich and Santorum and yes, even Paul, but only if they each nominate one of the panelists and those panelists have a long involvement in the public debate. There are plenty of people, but the campaign needs to be serious going forward, not WWF-meets-CNN. (More on this subject here.)

Not one question on Iran? No extended discussion of the president’s 20,000 jobs-killing veto of the Keystone Pipeline? Not a single question about Obama’s “strategic reassessment” of America’s military that will cut it by a trillion dollars and greatly weaken America’s defenses? In South Carolina? These debates, no matter the format and no matter the MSMer at the control, fail to deliver the opportunity for the opposition to present its plans for turning the country around, so they fail the country and the campaigns, and so should end except as organized by the candidates themselves.

The real campaign needs to begin, and soon, which is why even if South Carolina gives Newt a story to tell for the next few years, Florida and beyond will nominate Romney ir Santorum and then the real debate will get underway: How best to repair the massive damage done by the worst president of modern times.

Team Romney released a set of quotes on Newt’s grandiosity problem last night. It is titled using the former Speaker’s own phrase “I think grandiose thoughts.” I reproduce it here for your convenience:

Gingrich on Gingrich:

  • “I Think I Am A Transformational Figure.” (PBS.org, 12/2/11)
  • “I Am Essentially A Revolutionary.” (Adam Clymer, “House Revolutionary,” The New York Times, 8/23/92)
  • “Philosophically, I Am Very Different From Normal Politicians … We Have Big Ideas.” (Andrew Ferguson, “What Does Newt Gingrich Know?” The New York Times, 6/29/11)
  • “I Have An Enormous Personal Ambition. I Want To Shift The Entire Planet. And I’m Doing It. … I Represent Real Power.” (Lois Romano, “Newt Gingrich, Maverick On The Hill,” The Washington Post, 1/3/85)
  • “I First Talked About [Saving Civilization] In August Of 1958.” (Robert Draper, “He’s Baaack!” GQ, 8/05)
  • “Over My Years In Public Life, I Have Become Known As An ‘Ideas Man.'” (Andrew Ferguson, “What Does Newt Gingrich Know?” The New York Times, 6/29/11)
  • “I Am The Longest Serving Teacher In The Senior Military, 23 Years Teaching One And Two-Star Generals And Admirals The Art Of War.” (GOP Presidential Candidates Debate, 12/15/11)

Speaker Gingrich Has Compared Himself to a Litany of Historical Leaders:

Ronald Reagan And Margaret Thatcher: “Gingrich said he learned a lot about himself in the political wilderness. … In the same breath, he compares himself to two conservative giants. With Gingrich, humility has its limits. ‘Because I am much like Reagan and Margaret Thatcher, I’m such an unconventional political figure that you really need to design a unique campaign that fits the way I operate and what I’m trying to do.'” (Jim Acosta, “Newt Gingrich Back From The Brink,” CNN.com, 11/16/11)

Abraham Lincoln: “Gingrich began his speech with remarks in which he predicted an economic recovery ‘literally’ the night Republicans would send Barack Obama home, and then announced, ‘I begin as Lincoln did.’ He argued that, like Lincoln, all his ideas came out of the Declaration of Independence.” (Jason Horowitz, “Newt Gingrich Draws Contrast With Romney,” The Washington Post, 12/1/11)

Woodrow Wilson: “He earned a PhD in history and taught college before winning a seat in Congress. He has often spoken of himself as a historian. In 1995, he told CNN’s Bob Franken: ‘I am the most seriously professorial politician since Woodrow Wilson.'” (John Pitney, “Five Myths About Newt Gingrich,” The Washington Post, 11/22/11)

Henry Clay: “Putting his tumultuous four years in the speaker’s chair into historical perspective, the former history professor compared himself to 19th century statesman Henry Clay, ‘the great compromiser’ who lost three bids for the presidency and served as speaker and secretary of State. Gingrich said that like Clay, he did more than just preside over the House. ‘I was not a presider, I was the leader,’ Gingrich said in the interview. ‘I think Henry Clay’s probably the only other speaker to have been a national leader and a speaker of the House simultaneously.'” (William Welch, “Gingrich: I’ll Go Down As Leader, Clinton As Tragedy,” USA Today, 8/30/99)

Charles De Gaulle: “‘At one point, I asked Gingrich, now a healthful-looking 65, about his sudden exit from Congress in 1998. ‘First of all, in the Toynbeean sense, I believe in departure and return,’ he told me. ‘In the what sense?’ I asked. ‘Arnold Toynbee,’ he replied matter-of-factly, referring to the English writer Arnold J. Toynbee, who wrote ‘A Study of History.’ ‘I believe in the sense that, you know, De Gaulle had to go to Colombey-les-Deux-glises for 11 years.’ ‘I’m sorry?’ ‘Departure and return. And someone once said to me, if you don’t leave, you can’t come back, because you’ve never left.'” (Matt Bai, “Newt. Again.” New York Times Magazine, 2/25/09)

William Wallace: “‘If you go out and see what’s happening in the Tea Party, the last thing you want is a passionless election,’ Gingrich says, then refers to the epic movie about the battle for Scottish independence in the 13th century. ‘Remember Braveheart? These people want somebody who plants a flag in the ground, gives a speech and yells “Charge!” That is, someone like him.” (Susan Page, “Rising From The Pack, Gingrich Invites Scrutiny,” USA Today, 11/21/11)

Pericles: “In a long interview on May 4, 1992, devoted almost exclusively to the topic of Gingrich, [former White House aide Richard] Darman concluded that Gingrich was ‘an unstable personality’ who talks about four or five great people in history, including Pericles and himself.” (Bob Woodward, “In His Debut In Washington’s Power Struggles, Gingrich Threw A Bomb,” The Washington Post, 12/24/11)

The Duke Of Wellington: “Obsessed recently with Arthur Wellesley, the Duke of Wellington, [Gingrich] likened the appropriations triumph to the way the British expeditionary force maneuvered against the French during the Peninsular War, a campaign in Portugal and Spain in the early 1800s that eventually led to Wellington’s ascendance and Napoleon’s abdication.” (Michael Weisskopf and David Maraniss, “In A Moment Of Crisis, The Speaker Persuades,” The Washington Post, 8/13/95)

A Viking: “With his machine-gun staccato delivery, [Gingrich] is the center of attention. He terms himself a ‘Viking.'” (“Gingrich Delivers For GOP Faithful,” South Bend Tribune, 7/28/95)

Thomas Edison: “Once he took over GOPAC in 1986, the organization became what he called the creative thinking and research group of the Republican Party. ‘We are on the way to becoming the Bell Labs of politics,’ Mr. Gingrich proclaimed. ‘That’s the closest model you can find to what we do, and nobody else is in that business. The first thing you need at Bell Labs is a Thomas Edison, and the second thing you need is a real understanding of how you go from scientific theory to a marketable product.'” (Katharine Q. Seelye, “Birth Of A Vision,” The New York Times, 12/3/95)

Vince Lombardi: “By four in the morning, [Gingrich] had moved on to football metaphors. What the Republicans had accomplished, Gingrich said, was like the old Green Bay Packers sweep during the days of Coach Vince Lombardi: The opposition knows you are going to run at them, but they cannot stop you. Lombardi, Gingrich said, believed that the team that doesn’t break in the fourth quarter wins.” (Michael Weisskopf and David Maraniss, “In A Moment Of Crisis, The Speaker Persuades,” The Washington Post, 8/13/95)

The Wright Brothers: “At that dinner, held in a convention center in Johnston, Gingrich sought to add more emotional lift into his stump speech. ‘I am asking you to embark with me on a voyage of invention and discovery,’ he said, ‘to be as bold and as brave as the Wright brothers.'” (Jason Horowitz, “Newt Gingrich Draws Contrast With Romney,” The Washington Post, 12/1/11)

Moses: “On this night, Gingrich congratulated his troops on standing united and inspired them with stories about Charles de Gaulle’s heroism and George Washington at Valley Forge … At one point, he likened himself, lightheartedly, to Moses. He’d help them cross the Red Sea once again, Gingrich vowed, but only if they promised, this time, to stay on the other side.” (Matt Bai, “Newt. Again.” New York Times Magazine, 2/25/09)

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