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Poll: Gingrich, Romney Tied; Former Speaker Cites Tea-Party Appeal

Filed by KOSU News in Politics.
November 21, 2011

Newt Gingrich’s moment in the sun in the 2012 race for the Republican presidential nomination stretched into the Thanksgiving holiday week with a new USA Today-Gallup poll placing him and Mitt Romney in a statistical tie at 22 percent and 21 percent of support, respectively.

The poll of GOP and Republican-leaning registered voters was the latest of several national and state polls showing an unmistakable Gingrich surge.

Given the rise and fall of support for Rep. Michele Bachmann, Texas Gov. Rick Perry and Herman Cain as a large number of Republicans continue to show their unhappiness with their choices, particularly the man thought to be the likeliest nominee, Romney, it would be an understatement to say that significant skepticism exists about Gingrich actually becoming the nominee.

Those doubts have only been enlarged by recent reports that the former House speaker’s companies have made millions of dollars through Gingrich’s “strategic advice” to a number of companies, including Freddie Mac, the mortgage giant.

Freddie Mac, like Fannie Mae, is despised by many conservatives who blame the government-sponsored entities for causing the housing meltdown. So Gingrich’s association with one of the GSEs isn’t helpful in his bid for the nomination, to say the least.

Gingrich has insisted he did no lobbying for the money. “Strategic advice,” in Washington parlance, however, often involves a respected Beltway insider giving advice to lobbyists on how to frame their messages to certain lawmakers and on whom to approach.

Susan Page at USA Today interviewed Gingrich and reports that though he is something of the ultimate Washington insider, he’s selling himself as the best candidate for the Tea Party activists who are supposed to be the antithesis of everything the former speaker stands for.

An excerpt:

“In some ways, the movement fueled by an antipathy to Washington insiders would seem to be an odd fit with a 20-year veteran of Congress who rose to be speaker of the House nearly a generation ago.

“Not so, Gingrich says. “That’s why I’m perfect” for the Tea Party, he says, as an outsider who knows how things work, while Romney is unacceptable to many in the movement.=”

“Gingrich cites an op-ed article by former Clinton Labor secretary Robert Reich he has been reading in The Christian Science Monitor that argues the nomination of Romney would mean a ‘passionless’ election.

” ‘If you go out and see what’s happening in the Tea Party, the last thing you want is a passionless election,’ Gingrich says, then refers to the epic movie about the battle for Scottish independence in the 13th century. ‘Remember Braveheart? These people want somebody who plants a flag in the ground, gives a speech and yells ‘Charge!’ ‘

“That is, someone like him.”

[Copyright 2011 National Public Radio]

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