Debate Club

Newt Gingrich Cannot Escape His Past


There can be no doubt that a Gingrich/Obama showdown would be an intellectual tour de force, and America's best shot at having a robust, honest conversation about two very different visions for America's future.

It's also a pairing in which President Barack Obama most likely wins a second term in office.

[See a collection of political cartoons on the economy.]

Even as Gingrich's campaign comes into focus, the former House speaker isn't exactly Mr. Popularity. Polling reveals a double-digit spread in Gingrich's favorability ratings, with a plurality of voters consistently harboring negative views of a man who has been in the public spotlight for decades. By contrast, even as voters question President Obama's ability to get the economy back on track, they admit to still liking the guy.

With an electorate fed up with Washington's partisan gridlock and special interests, Gingrich can hardly claim the mantle of outsider; the $1.6 million he collected to work as a "historian" for Freddie Mac, for one, won't sit well with everyday Americans.

[See a slide show of Newt Gingrich's career]

Finally, in an election where Hispanic voters are poised to play a significant role in at least a handful of critical states, Gingrich lacks the credibility to peel these voters away from Obama.

Although The Americano, the Conservative bilingual website that Gingrich helped launch, is a savvy overture, it cannot compensate for his past misgivings, such as calling Spanish, "the language of the ghetto." Nor can it mask the limits of Gingrich's approach to immigration, which discounts the DREAM Act, comprehensive reform, and a path to citizenship.

Unfortunately for Gingrich, in an election that hinges on the future, his baggage keeps him tethered to the past.

Alicia Menendez

About Alicia Menendez Senior Adviser at NDN

Gingrich, Newt

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