The Logical Second Choice
A growing number of Sarah Palin supporters, having finally come to terms with her decision not to run for president in 2012, are now beginning to give Newt Gingrich a second look. Many of the Paliniste never had a second choice in mind, so the process to find another presidential candidate to back has been a slow and deliberate one. Though Sarah's Army surveys the field of announced candidates and finds every one of them lacking in comparison to the 2008 GOP vice presidential nominee, some have concluded that the former Speaker of the House, more so than any of his Republican rivals, is the one they can settle for.
Already two noteworthy bloggers who have been strong advocates for Gov. Palin have endorsed Gingrich. Sheya, whose Palin TV website specializes in making Palin-related videos available to her supporters, endorsed Speaker Gingrich today on his personal blog, Sheya.com. M. Joseph Sheppard, whose support of Gov. Palin has been unyielding at A Point Of View, rolled out an additional blog, Palin Supporters For Gingrich 2012, late last week. It is important to point out that both bloggers remain staunch supporters of Sarah Palin. They have not retired their pro-Palin websites, but are expressing their support of Gingrich for president in the context of their general support for Gov. Palin and the principles she advances. Even Stephen Bannon, director of the landmark Sarah Palin documentary "The Undefeated," devoted a segment of his KABC radio program "The Victory Sessions" to a Newt Gingrich interview Sunday.
Why Gingrich, and why not one of the other declared GOP presidential canidates? There are several reasons.
Like Sarah Palin and more so than any of his rivals for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination, Newt Gingrich is a Reagan conservative. Unlike Gov. Palin, who was just sixteen years old when Reagan was first elected president, Gingrich had already served the first of ten terms in the U.S. Congress and had the opportunity to work with Reagan, which he did for a period of eight years. There was a cross-pollination of ideas between Gingrich and Reagan which made a conservative out of Gingrich and provided President Reagan with themes for his reelection campaign in 1984, not the least of which were the "Opportunity Society" principles developed by Gingrich and some of his House colleagues.
After Reagan left office and the Republican Party began to drift back toward the center under President George H. W. Bush, Gingrich went against the grain, rising to his first leadership position in the House, Minority Whip. Gingrich continued to advance Reagan principles after Bill Clinton won the presidency in 1992, co-authoring the Contract With America in 1994 and winning election to the powerful position of Speaker of the House by his colleagues in 1995. Palin supporters looking for the Reagan conservative in the 2012 field of GOP presidential contenders will inevitably conclude that Newt Gingrich is the pick of the litter.
Experience and Accomplishment
Like Sarah Palin, Newt Gingrich has a long record of experience and accomplishment, though the achievements of the two were reached from paths that were quite different. The Palin resume shows two terms as a city councilwoman, two terms as a mayor, a stint as a state oil and gas commissioner, and a partial term as a governor. Gingrich's governmental experience came from twenty years in the U.S. House of Representatives, but he rose to the highest leadership position in that body. In addition, his resume is fortified with experience as a professor of history and geography. He has also taught military and foreign policy courses at the U.S. Air Force Academy and the National Defense University. Gingrich was a Senior Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and remains a Distinguished Visiting Fellow at the Hoover Institution. Like Gov. Palin, speaker Gingrich is a best-selling author, and he has also produced several public policy documentary films with David Bossie and Citizens United.
Both Sarah Palin and Newt Gingrich are reformers, and both can be proud of accomplishments borne of their shared Reagan conservatism and political activism. After making reforms in the way Alaska does business and cleaning up her state's Republican Party, Gov. Palin has been working to achieve national reform. She helped elect a number of conservative candidates in the 2010 midterm election and is significantly shaping the current political debate though her public appearances and written op-eds. As House Speaker, Gingrich is largely responsible for reforming the way the federal government administers welfare, and his negotiations with President Clinton resulted in the first balanced federal budget that had been seen in thirty years. Both Palin and Gingrich have proved that they can work with the opposing party to achieve reforms of benefit to their constituents.
What's not to like?
Newt Gingrich is not without his political sins. His endorsement of Dee Dee Scozzafava in New York's 23rd Congressional District has perhaps earned him most of the ire of conservatives he has suffered. The former Speaker has acknowledged that he made a mistake and moved on. He's a smart politician, and we certainly hope that he has learned a lesson from the experience. To be fair, Sarah Palin has made some endorsements that also angered conservatives, most notably backing Carly Fiorina over Chuck DeVore for the U.S. Senate from California.
Gingrich has also expressed regret for making a commercial with Nancy Pelosi on the issue of climate change. He's hardly alone as a conservative who fell for the left's tactic of using thousands of scientists to push the man-made global warming myth. And, yes, Sarah Palin's position on this issue is one which can best be described as "evolving." Conservatives were no less angered by Gingrich's working relationship with Hillary Clinton, as the two have served together on a couple of commissions. Though the former speaker was largely responsible for the defeat of then-Senator Hillary Clinton's universal health care plan, he offered both praise and criticism of Clinton during her run against Obama for the Democrat Party presidential nomination in 2008. Again, Gov. Palin has praised Hillary for cracking the political "glass ceiling" for women, and a number of Clinton's strongest supporters have also been supportive of Sarah Palin. In the final analysis, very few conservatives would be able to pass an ideological purity test, and those who can don't tend to win national elections. Even Ronald Reagan made a deal with the Democrats that resulted in a tax increase, and he came away from the experience chagrined, but much wiser.
We won't dwell on Gingrich's personal baggage, only say let he who is without sin cast the first stone.
The High Road and Respect for Sarah Palin
Of the announced presidential candidates, Gingrich is the most prominent one who has refrained from engaging in petty bickering with his rivals. His criticism of the other candidates has been rare, principled and always limited to issue positions. Taking the high road is earning him considerable respect and helping his polling numbers to improve significantly. This stands in marked contrast to the way many of the others, especially Rick Perry and Mitt Romney, have attacked each other. Like Sarah Palin, Gingrich mostly finds something positive to say about his competitors, even when he states his differences with them on policy positions.
Unlike his rivals, he has always been supportive of Gov. Palin, even during those rare moments when he offered constructive criticism. Jon Huntsman, Ron Paul and Gary Johnson have publicly dissed her. Though publicly insisting that Palin is a "friend," Michele Bachmann and Rick Perry have allowed their surrogates to attack her, and both have had supporters spread patently false rumors that Gov. Palin was on the verge of giving their candidate her endorsement. A number of Perry supporters, through op-eds published by sites such as RedState.com and Ace of Spades HQ, as well as ill-conceived messages sent via Twitter, have virtually guaranteed that Palin backers will never throw their support to the Texas governor. Gingrich has often publicly praised Gov. Palin, and there have been no substantial anti-Palin undercurrents from his supporters. It's clear that the former speaker is not only wooing the Palin troops, but he understands that he must earn their support.
It's not clear if Gov. Palin will make an endorsement in the GOP presidential primary, even before the RNC convention next August. What is clear, at least to those Palin supporters who do their homework, is that when the records, policy positions and treatment of Sarah Palin by the announced GOP presidential candidates are stacked up next to each other, only Newt Gingrich stands out as the real Reagan conservative among them. While this site is not yet officially endorsing the former Speaker, we are leaning in his direction. At this time we can see no other logical second choice for Gov. Palin's supporters.