Republican Newt Gingrich credited his wife and blind persistence for pulling his campaign back from the brink of disaster in the 2012 race. But an expert suggests circumstance really controls his newfound fame.
Gingrich praised his third wife Callista, whom he said pieced his campaign back together after key staffers quit and media allegations crashed it, and his own persistence for his new lead in Politico’s eBook The Right Fights Back, released Wednesday.
Callista, he said, dug into the campaign, becoming “a very good surrogate.” Gingrich said he too dug deeper into the GOP presidential nominee race, refusing to acknowledge that the campaign was failing.
“I was the only guy in the room who didn’t know I was dead,” he said in the book.
News polls show Gingrich surging ahead of October front-runner Herman Cain and experienced contender Mitt Romney. The former speaker leads Romney by as much as 4 percent in CNN/ Opinion Research and Quinnipiac polls – a far cry from his standing in July when he barely garnered 5 percent of support in the polls.
Persistence seems to have served the former speaker well. Still, persistence has not helped candidates such as former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman and Sen. Rick Santorum who have not managed to break past 10 percent in the polls.
Van Hipp, Presidential Electoral College member and chairman of American Defense International Inc., wrote in a Monday Fox News op-ed that the difference has been that Gingrich used his down time wisely.
“The 68 year-old former speaker of the House from Georgia, whose campaign up until now has been just about a ‘one man band,’ learned everything he could about social media and how to effectively employ it. As a result, he is now the one Republican presidential candidate who has mastered its use, and the results speak for themselves,” he wrote.
Gingrich has since won a recent North Carolina Republican Party straw poll and an endorsement from the New Hampshire Union Leader.
N.C. State University Political Science Professor Andrew Taylor argues that all Gingrich may have really done was successfully benefited from the political mishaps of others.
“I think a great deal of what has helped was sort of the rise and falls and sort of failings of some his competitors,” he told The Christian Post.
Most recently, Cain’s campaign has lost momentum amid allegations of sexual harassment and an alleged affair. Texas Gov. Rick Perry also lost momentum after making a number of gaffes during the debates.
“Other candidates, and that includes obviously Speaker Gingrich, are going to benefit from their troubles,” Taylor said.
Gingrich has become the newest alternative to Romney in the race because Republicans view him to be a true conservative unlike the former Massachusetts governor, Taylor pointed out. Comparatively, he said, “Speaker Gingrich has pretty significant experience, has pretty strong conservatives bona fides.”
However, Gingrich is not immune to a political fall from grace, the professor added. “There are conservatives out there who worry about his personal life.”
Gingrich said he ignored advisers who suggested his younger third wife, whom he met during an extramarital affair, should not be so close to the campaign. Now he said she has become as integral to him as Nancy Reagan was to Ronald Reagan.
Taylor acknowledged Callista Gingrich’s involvement is greater than some of the other spouses on the campaign trail, but said her presence will always be a reminder of Newt Gingrich’s complicated marital past.
Taylor said he also has to explain away the ethics violations that caused him to resign from Congress as well as his consultant work for Freddie Mac.
Fellow candidate Rep. Michele Bachmann has already pounced on Gingrich for supposedly lobbying for the federal loan agency. Gingrich has defended his actions in a Fox News interview saying he never lobbied for the agency, and the money that he made was only a “relatively small percentage” of the income of his Gingrich Group.