“The key to running a campaign of ideas is cheerful persistence,” Newt Gingrich told TIME’s Alex Altman by e-mail early Thursday. And that’s the strategy Gingrich has pursued, pressing on against strong headwinds with multiple campaign events in Iowa, from where Gingrich spokesman Rick Tyler has been tweeting a stream of updates and photos describing overflow crowds to see the former House speaker.
This NPR report from Waterloo, Iowa, suggests that at least some GOP voters are still inclined to give Newt a shot:
Many in the audience seemed willing to give Gingrich the benefit of the doubt and dismiss the Medicare controversy….
“I listen to the commentators, and a lot of what he says and how they interpret it was really wrong,” said Shari Folken, of Cedar Falls….
Craig Gingrich of Cedar Falls, who isn’t related to the former House speaker, said people have mischaracterized the candidate’s comments.
“He is misinterpreted and spun continuously,” Craig Gingrich said. “Half the things are untrue that you see written about him.”
First, can we pause for a moment on the non-related Craig Gingrich? It’s a good thing he was a defender–when Newt can’t even count on his fellow Gingriches, you’ll know he’s in real trouble.
Anyway, Gingrich’s strategy for escaping the twin controversies over his positions on Medicare and health care mandates seems to hinge on good old fashioned media-bashing. The Waterloo paper reports that Gingrich told voters there that he’ll “have to convince the Washington news media that actually the voters who will decide this election is over and not five or six pundits.”
Gingrich made a similar point to TIME, writing: “It takes a while for big new solutions to sink in. It takes even longer for people to begin to understand how real they are. An ideas campaign is made even more challenging by the inclination of the media to focus on smaller easier to cover non-idea stories.”
Newt also worked to rehabilitate himself today by calling into the radio show of one of his harshest recent critics, Rush Limbaugh, who suggested on Tuesday that Gingrich “knows he is going to lose” and is aiming to be a “darling of the establishment.” Gingrich denied to Limbaugh that he was referring to Paul Ryan’s plan on Sunday when be bashed “right-wing social engineering,” to which Limbaugh asked the right follow up:
“And by the way it was not a reference to Paul Ryan, there was no reference to Paul Ryan in the answer,” [Gingrich said.]…
But when asked Thursday by Limbaugh why he apologized to Ryan if he was not referring to his plan, Gingrich said, “It was interpreted in a way which was causing trouble, which he doesn’t need or deserve and it was causing the House Republicans trouble.”
Gingrich also elaborated his views on Ryan to TIME, praising his “courage and intelligence” in addressing the fiscal crisis, and saying that Ryan “is the foundation upon which Republican fiscal policy will be developed for this era.” We’ll see whether that sort of cheerful persistence will make his fellow Republicans give him another chance.