Sunday, December 11, 2011

The DNC Really Wants to Run against Newt Gingrich

Viewers might be a little surprised by the time they come to the end of this ad portraying Newt Gingrich as the "original Tea Partier": it comes not from the Gingrich campaign but from the Democratic National Committee.

Though this ad is meant to be an attack ad with the eye toward the general election, a lot of it might be music to "Tea Party" ears. Beyond identifying Gingrich with the "Tea Party," it also cites his support for weakening Medicare and privatizing Social Security and his interest in ending the Department of Education. It highlights Gingrich's support for capital-gains tax-cuts for the wealthiest (a la Herman Cain's 9-9-9 plan). For some on the "Tea Party" wing of GOP politics, those positions are not electoral problems but instead a banner to rally around.

If Newt Gingrich gets identified as a Washington insider who has made himself wealthy through trading on his political connections and a Protean political operator who can change positions at a moment's notice, he will have a hard time getting the Republican nomination. If he's identified as a "Tea Party" purist, that path to the nomination (though perhaps not the presidency) becomes a lot less daunting.

The DNC is doing what it can to cast Gingrich as that kind of purist and thereby help him win the nomination. Over the past year or so, Democrats have been very effective in shaping the Republican nominating process. After all, the leftist talking point that Romney's Massachusetts health-care reform is the same thing as Obamacare has now become "conservative" purist gospel. Perhaps Democrats will be equally effective in casting Gingrich as a "Tea Partier." According to polls, "Tea Partiers" have been coming into the Gingrich fold in many early Republican primary states, so ads like this could help solidify that tendency.

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