Newt Gingrich's Three Biggest Weaknesses

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POLITICS MAY 18, 2011

Newt Gingrich's Three Biggest Weaknesses

As the Republican backlash against Newt Gingrich continues to grow, earlier today, I spoke with former Gingrich communications director Rich Galen about the three weaknesses that have undermined Newt’s campaign from the start.

A penchant for divisive language: “Newt, as a rhetorical device, will use the most divisive possible language to describe his position vs. his opponent’s position. He’ll then use that to bring you to his side. That’s the kind of thing he does when the adrenaline’s flowing. The problem on Sunday [on “Meet the Press”] is that the language he used was against Ryan, who is supposed to be an ally, or at least not supposed to be enemy.”

Too many ideas at once: “He is really is a man with lots of ideas. The problem is, you get sixteen ideas a day, some of them won’t be benign. … He’s a college professor by training. In person, he is a great college professor-style lecturer, who really gets you to thinking, really provokes you. But, of course, on “Meet the Press,” he doesn’t have a chance to develop context, develop an argument for forty-five minutes. He runs into trouble filtering that down to a concise point.”

No base of support in the House GOP: “His base of support over the years have been the House Republicans, and a few days into the campaign, he turns the guns on the House Republicans. Even before then, though, many of his old colleagues in the House are no longer there, and they no longer remember him driving Democrats nuts.”

Unlike many observers, though, Galen was quick to add that this isn’t the end of Gingrich’s campaign. “Remember, four years ago, we were talking about how John McCain was out of it,” he points out, “and then he ended up winning the nomination.”

James Downie is a reporter-researcher at The New Republic.

Follow @tnr on Twitter.

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