By Happy Carlock |
Whatever loyalty former House Speaker Newt Gingrich had to the Republican establishment was destroyed when it dropped the anvil on him after his South Carolina victory. Whatever goodwill Newt had toward former Gov. Mitt Romney evaporated in the blitz of negative ads that stole his chances for a win in Iowa. Now what's left is Newt's utter contempt for Mitt Romney. Newt will not be vice president. He will not be in the administration. He will not be fawned over by the Republican establishment like Gov. Mitch Daniels or Rep. Paul Ryan. All that's left for him is a deep desire for revenge. This is not a happy state of affairs for the GOP.
I attended Newt's rally with Herman Cain in Tampa this week. While it's true that the blunt, Gadsden flag-bearing crowd at the rally go together with Mitt Romney about as well as ice cream and anchovies, they are ultimately Republican base voters who will come back into the fold. It is independent voters who may turn away from Mitt Romney and never look back. While Newt may not have the money that Mitt Romney does, he knows how to use the media and is a master at framing negative attacks. Already he has leveled much harsher critiques of Mitt Romney's time at Bain Capital than Democrats would be able to pull off and it has been effective. Governor Romney's business experience, supposedly his strongest selling point, is now as likely to be viewed favorably as unfavorably by independents. This is an attack that is less resonant in a Republican primary, but is plenty effective among swing voters.
Romney's own response has also damaged his prospects. In order to win Florida, Romney and his super PAC spent $15.3 million dollars on anti-Newt attack ads. As a result, independents in Florida now favor the president by a margin of 50-36 in the latest NBC/Marist poll. I fully expect there to be another Gingrich resurrection from the dead and subsequent barrage of Romney-backed negative ads. As Romney is forced to level nasty attacks and to continue his pandering to the far right, President Obama will maintain the optimistic, broadly popular tone that he struck in his State of the Union address. If this dynamic leads to Obama prevailing over Romney in the fall, no one will be more pleased than Newt Gingrich.
About Krystal Ball MSNBC Contributor and Former Democratic Nominee for Congress in the First District of Virginia
Judson Phillips Founder of Tea Party Nation
Doug Heye Former Communications Director for the Republican National Committee
Ron Bonjean Former Chief of Staff for the Senate Republican Conference