Paul Ryan often says that he hopes to invert the notion that Social Security is the third rail of American politics. In Ryan’s ideal world, not tackling entitlement reform and deficit reduction would become the new third rail. I doubt the country has swung that way yet, but it seems that attacking Paul Ryan’s entitlement plan has become pretty dangerous for GOP presidential wannabes, as Newt Gingrich found out yesterday in Iowa:
IOWAN: What you just did to Paul Ryan is unforgivable.
GINGRICH: I didn’t do anything to Paul Ryan.
IOWAN: Yes, you did. You undercut him…. you’re an embarrassment to our party.
GINGRICH: I’m sorry you feel that way.
IOWAN: Why don’t you get out before you make a bigger fool of yourself?
South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, a valuable ally for any Republican presidential hopeful, goes off on Gingrich in an interview with CNN:
“What he said was absolutely unfortunate,” Haley told CNN in a phone interview. “Here you’ve got Representative Ryan trying to bring common sense to this world of insanity, and Newt absolutely cut him off at the knees.”
“When you have a conservative fighting for real change, the last thing we need is a presidential candidate cutting him off at the knees,” she added.