Newt U, Buddy!
by Thomas MacMillan | Aug 29, 2012 4:30 pm
Posted to: Campaign 2012
TAMPA, Fla.—While another Republican presidential also-ran addressed a roaring crowd of thousands at the Tampa Bay Times Forum Tuesday, Newt Gingrich enjoyed his own chance to be heard one last time—in small hotel function room miles away.
How far the mighty have fallen.
Gingrich, former Speaker of the U.S. House Representatives and contender for this year’s Republican presidential nomination, was one of a few dozen people gathered Tuesday morning in garishly-carpeted second-floor room at a Marriott in St. Petersburg, across the bay from Tampa.
Gingrich had been hoping to be addressing the full convention, and a national TV audience, this week in accepting his party’s presidential nomination. Instead, his candidacy crashed and burned, and party leaders denied him a prime-time speaking slot.
So he and his supporters had to settle for “Newt U,” which may sound like a rude remark but in fact stands for “Newt University.” It’s a series of workshops affording Gingrich and invited guests the chance to hold forth on the convention’s daily theme.
Newt U plays into Gingrich’s image as a professorial, intellectual force in the Republican Party. That image helped propel him briefly to the top of the pack during the Republican primary contest, one of several candidates who surged before former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney reached his inevitable victory.
On Tuesday evening on the main stage of the cavernous arena in Tampa, former Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum wowed the party faithful with a metaphor about how he “shook the hand of the American dream.” The evening’s headliners then offered a good cop/bad cop routine, with Romney’s wife Ann—in a bid for women voters—speaking about love, and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie forcefully calling on Republicans to “choose respect over love.”
It was the conclusion of a day with the theme of “We Built It,” in which Republicans hammered again and again at President Obama for his “You didn’t build that” comment (ripped out of context for political gain).
“We Built It” was also the stated theme for Tuesday morning’s Newt U seminar. As it happened, the event wandered through a broad array of anti-Obama talking points from health care to religion—and even veered completely off-message at a couple of points.
A number of Republican small-business owners spoke about how they made their fortunes without any help from the government. David Park, Korean-born CEO of Austin Capital, talked about how he started his business with nothing, working early mornings and late nights seven days a week making and delivering muffins and cookies before and after his day job as a financial analyst.
His big break came from an early client, he said. “That man did more for me than the government ever did or will do.”
Some speakers found it harder to stay on message. During a panel discussion featuring a series of leading questions, small business owners were asked just how negative an impact Obama’s “You didn’t build that” comment will have on the next generation of entrepreneurs. Rick Cochran, CEO of a Vermont company that makes mobile surgery facilities, responded with an aggrieved anecdote about how Obama had blown him off on two occasions. Then he narrowly avoided complaining that he wasn’t getting enough government assistance.
“From a small business perspective, the reality is we need help now and we’re looking for government—uh—in this case they’re a purchaser of the goods and services,” he said.
During earlier remarks Cochran had described the growth of his business, saying “No one hands it to you.”
Another messaging hiccup burbled up later when Jack Nicholson (pictured), former secretary of veterans affairs and ambassador to the Vatican, offered a fond anecdote about Gingrich’s time in the House of Representatives, when the Speaker used his government influence to help Coca-Cola retain its monopoly on thirst-quenching in the Capitol building.
“I’ll never forget one morning I got a call from the CEO of PepsiCo because they were trying to put PepsiCo pop-bottle dispensing machines in the Capitol building and I guess take Coca-Cola dispensing machines out,” Nicholson said. “And Newt, as you know, is from Atlanta, the headquarters of Coca-Cola, a great American institution and so I called Newt and said one of the security guys is holding up PepsiCo and he said, ‘If you think they’re taking the Coca-Cola machines out of the Capitol building, well I’m the Speaker. You’ve got another think coming.’ And that’s the kind of guy he is and the loyalty and the service he has.”
After two hours, Gingrich himself took the podium and summed up with three points.
First: “We need to take back the word ‘public.’ Public does not mean bureaucratic.” “Mutual help” organizations like Habitat For Humanity can help the needy better than the government, he said.
Second: Republicans need to “reassert the nobility of creating jobs and wealth.” Government bureaucracy “undermines the spirit of creating jobs,” he said. he pointed to Andrew Carnegie who amassed great wealth and poured it into private philanthropic causes.
Third: Republicans need to “own the argument” that “the center of power comes not from government but from God.” That point will be the “central fight to defining America’s future,” he said.
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“We Built It”—held in a huge convention hall funded through tax dollars collected primarily from low-income workers, undocumented immigrants, and middle class families.
A very wise friend of mine says, “Newt talks the way dumb people think smart people sound.” Only his ego seams bigger than his pride.
I can see why anonymous and HhE—“don’t have the guts to use their real names.”
They apparently do not want to embarrass themselves by revealing their true identity.
Perhaps they are releasing their frustrations—- in this fashion, to save the cost of paying a psychiatrist?
Personally, I am a senior citizen, who looks for the good in people, and I happen to like this gentleman from my old home town of Marietta, Georgia.
This blog—does not have to be “a hate column.” And, it doesn’t cost anymore, to try to be respectful! Besides, it may leave you in a better mood.
Stan Muzyk, here is a clue to my “secret identity.”
I hardly try to keep from revealing myself. In these pages, I have described myself as a white person who is or was active in the Newhallville CMT. I use my initials. I have posted a link to my uncle. I have identified myself as being at various venues. A number of people have figured it out. Just in case you have not, HhE stands for Harold Holmes Ellis (I was named for my Great Grandfather, Ellis Harold Holmes. So when my Mom married Charles Ellis, it stood to reason that their first son would be named for her late Grandfather.).
For someone who seeks to find good in people, all you have seamed to find in me is cowardliness, mental unbalance, and an apparent unwillingness to spend $135.
What I have found in Newt Gingrich that I find distasteful includes arrogance, intellectual inconsistency, bigotry, and disloyalty. I haven’t found any good in him yet, but I will keep looking.
If it makes you feel any better, another friend of mine says, “Of all the Republican psychopaths running for President, I like Newt Gingrich the best, because at least he has a vision for a space program.”