Gingrich: The best thing that happened to Newt Gingrich yesterday was getting shot with confetti by a same-sex marriage supporter in Minneapolis. At least, at that point, he was finally being attacked from the left. The rest of Newt’s day was downhill from there.
Gingrich’s biggest effort at damage control came with a mid-day blogger conference call in which he doubled-down on calling House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan’s budget “radical,” compared himself to Ronald Reagan, falsely claimed he never supported cap and trade, and then offered to cut a television spot for any House candidate attacked by Democrats using his remarks on the Ryan plan. Newt is apparently completely unaware that no House candidate will want him anywhere near their district. The DCCC is already using Newt’s statements in emails to constituents in Republican districts. Newt then ended his day with a call to Ryan apologizing for calling his plan radical.
He may not know it yet, but Newt’s presidential campaign could be finished. The main question at this point is how much damage he will do to his brand in the long-term. As The Corner‘s, Katrina Trinko reports, Tea Party leaders across the country are furious with him for attacking Ryan. Many of them still remember Newt’s decision to back Dede Scozzafava in the 2009 NY-23 special election. And conservative leaders recall Newt’s perfidy to their congressional leaders during the 1990s, as described by Sen. Tom Coburn’s book “Breach of Trust.”
Despite all this, Newt’s short-lived candidacy may be the best thing that has happened to the Republican party in a long time. As Yuval Levin points out, “an exceptionally broad array of conservatives—from the DC establishment to the talk radio world to the grass roots and the Tea Party” rallied together to defend the Ryan plan. This is a huge leap forward for fiscal responsibility for the GOP. Newt has solidified the reduction of entitlement spending as the new litmus test of GOP primary politics. Other 2012 campaigns ignore this lesson at their peril.
A Texas pol who is close to Perry has been telling a few key strategists that the nation’s longest-serving governor sees a vacuum and is waiting to be summoned into the race. This source believes that could happen by late summer. Without fellow Southerners Haley Barbour or Mike Huckabee in the race — and with Newt Gingrich’s early troubles raising further doubts about the current lineup — there could be a glaring niche for Perry to fill.
Instapundit loves Perry’s plan for low-cost college degrees, and Allahpundit writes: “He has more than a decade of experience leading one of America’s biggest states, can boast economic growth at a moment when voters are desperate for relief from the malaise, would enjoy key regional support as a southerner, has budget-cutting cred to spare that’ll please tea partiers, and flashes enough personality to make him easily stand out at debates against other top-tier candidates like Romney, Pawlenty, and Daniels.”
Budget: The Gang of Six is dead. Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., announced he was walking away from the talks. Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., tells reporters that without Coburn, the groups talks will be suspended indefinitely. The sticking point for Coburn was apparently entitlement spending, on which Democrats apparently refused to budge.
The only game left in town is the “Gang of Biden” represented by Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., and Majority Whip Eric Cantor, R-Vir. According to Kyl “negotiations have yielded general agreement on about $150 billion in spending cuts, with the acknowledgment that trillions more will have to be cut as part of any long-term deal.”
Outside of the Biden talks, Sen. Ben Nelson, D-Neb., told Roll Call he will oppose any deal that raises taxes.