- (Reuters/Jeff Haynes)
There is no question that former House Speaker Newt Gingrich is getting lots of press these days. However, some of it may not be too flattering. A handful of Republican "elites," and even some of his past leadership team in Congress, are bashing Gingrich as anything but a true conservative in issues ranging from abortion to foreign policy.
In an article in Wednesday's National Review, Elliott Abrams, who served in top-level positions in both the Reagan and Bush administrations, claims Gingrich spent the majority of his early years in Congress criticizing Reagan's strategy in dealing with the Soviet Union.
"As a new member of Congress in the Reagan years – and I was an assistant secretary of state – Mr. Gingrich voted with the president regularly, but equally often spewed insulting rhetoric at Reagan, his top aides, and his policies to defeat Communism," Abrams wrote. "Gingrich was voluble and certain in predicting that Reagan's policies would fail, and in all of this he was dead wrong."
Yet Gingrich's problems don't end with media elites or former state department officials. Former Sen. and GOP nominee Bob Dole and Gingrich's former sidekick and top lieutenant Tom DeLay are now taking aim at the former speaker.
"I have not been critical of Newt Gingrich but it is now time to take a stand before it is too late," Dole said in a statement given to National Review. "If Gingrich is the nominee it will have an adverse impact on Republican candidates running for county, state, and federal offices. Hardly anyone who served with Newt in Congress has endorsed him and that fact speaks for itself. He was a one-man-band who rarely took advice. It was his way or the highway."
"In my run for the presidency in 1996 the Democrats greeted me with a number of negative TV ads and in every one of them Newt was in the ad," continued Dole. "He was very unpopular and I am not only certain that this did not help me, but that it also cost House seats that year. Newt would show up at the campaign headquarters with an empty bucket in his hand – that was a symbol of some sort for him – and I never did know what he was doing or why he was doing it, and I'm not certain he knew either."
DeLay, meanwhile, told USA Today, "What has been said about Newt is pretty much true. He had to step down because conservative Republicans wouldn't vote for him again as speaker…because he's not really a conservative."
"He'll tell you what you want to hear," DeLay said. "He has an uncanny ability, sort of like (Bill) Clinton, to feel your pain and know his audience and speak to his audience and fire them up. When he was speaker, he was erratic, undisciplined."
Two former members of Congress, who did not want to talk on the record and served under Gingrich, were involved in the initial meetings to oust Gingrich. Both confirmed DeLay's comments about Gingrich's lack of discipline in conversations with The Christian Post.
"Newt just got too big for his britches," said one former member. "A group of us got together because we felt what we had worked so hard to achieve was slipping through our fingers. Of course former majority leader Dick Armey was part of our discussions until he threw most of us under the bus by running back to Newt."
Columnist Ann Coulter, who espouses conservative fiscal and foreign policy issues, has also jumped on the anti-Newt bandwagon by defending Romney's reversal on abortion.
Romney changed his mind on abortion – "not when it was politically advantageous, but when it mattered," Coulter wrote on her website. "As governor of liberal, pro-choice Massachusetts, he vetoed an embryonic stem cell bill and 'worked closely' with Massachusetts Citizens for Life. The president of MCL recently issued a statement saying that, "since being elected governor, Mitt Romney has had a consistent commitment to the culture of life."
"He didn't defend his changed position by saying he was a 'historian,' or denounce people who raised the switch as 'fundamentally' dishonest asking 'absurd' questions, or go back and forth and back and forth," Coulter continued. "He just said he changed his mind. Meanwhile, Gingrich, who has run for office only in a small, majority Republican, undoubtedly pro-life congressional district, lobbied President Bush to support embryonic stem cell research."
Regardless of the rhetoric coming from Romney or Gingrich's respective camps, the race in both Florida and nationally is getting tighter.
In the Real Clear Politics average of Florida polls, Romney still holds a slight 3-point lead over Gingrich. However, the RCP national average of the GOP race has Gingrich and Romney in a dead heat, with Gingrich holding an insignificant 1 point lead. Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum comes in at 14 percent and Texas Rep. Ron Paul has a 12 percent in the average of national polls.