Over at Politico, Alexander Burns steps up to the plate, swinging away at the idea that Gingrich can somehow make another comeback.The article reads like a series of suggestions to the Gingrich campaign on how to make it a race again.
Of course the media would love an extended primary just like the one between Hillary and Obama four years ago. But let’s go through these tactical suggestions and explain why they won’t work.
Redo the Contract for America: Instead of themes like conservative vs. moderate, or timid vs. bold, Gingrich should make specific popular proposals on taxes and other issues.
As Herman Cain and Rick Perry discovered, redesigning the tax system isn’t easy. Flattening taxes usually raising rates on the middle class or it explodes the national debt. Jon Huntsman put out bold policy proposals, and it won him almost nothing.
Demand More Debates: Without any more Republican debates until Feb 22. Gingrich is starved of media oxygen. He should ask for more debates, then attack Romney as a coward for ducking them.
Unfortunately, the idea that there haven’t been enough debates already is just not credible. Romney can respond politely, “We debated 19 times. And we’ll debate again in a few weeks.” This is a dead end.
Do More Talk Radio and Fox appearances: The big talk radio shows of the world have just as much interest in an extended primary as the rest of the media. So get on the airwaves and rally the base.
This is probably the best suggestion of them all. But it isn’t at all clear from the exit polling that Gingrich is doing better among conservatives. He’s simply doing better among lower-income whites.
Hope Santorum and Paul Do Your Dirty Work: Gingrich can’t compete on the ground in the upcoming caucus states (Nevada, Colorado, Maine) so just hope that strong finishes by Paul and Santorum get people talking about how weak Mitt Romney is. Then swoop in again.
But hope isn’t a strategy. And, if Bill Kristol is to be believed, Santorum is more likely to truly emerge as an alternative than the over-exposed Gingrich.
Make It “Us” vs. “Them”: Focus like a laser on the class divisions within the GOP. Make Romney seem like another elite figure, a head-chopping financier with a strange religion and Swiss bank accounts.
The problem with this strategy is how easily Romney can flip it around. Gingrich is a “creature of Washington,” an “influence peddler,” and a “lobbyist” who has never done anything but politics in his life. Gingrich is an insider, and Romney is a job-creator who had success in the private sector.
Of course these ideas for a Gingrich comeback will continue buzzing around the political media. The idea of an inevitable Romney candidacy just doesn’t seem to have enough conflict for great journalism. But this is all just talk, like the perennial speculation that a sad-sack sports team could actually contend for a championship if everything falls just right.
The only path forward for Gingrich would be the revelation of some spectacular Romney scandal. But it seems like after South Carolina, the opposition research file on Romney has been emptied.
It’s all over but Gingrich’s shouting.
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