Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Is Newt on the rise? Stranger things have happened


Just as Newt Gingrich is enjoying his rise in the polls comes this story that exposes his chief vulnerability in this current political environment: He’s a Washington insider.

“Newt Gingrich made between $1.6 million and $1.8 million in consulting fees from two contracts with mortgage company Freddie Mac, according to two people familiar with the arrangement,” Bloomberg News reports. Voters may forgive personal foibles, but what about problems that cut to the core of what angers voters? Not so much. Gingrich has some real explaining to do on this.

The news that a Super PAC supporting Jon Huntsman -- which Huntsman’s wealthy father is reportedly helping to finance -- is airing a TV ad in New Hampshire is a reminder how one rich friend can go around the campaign-finance limits to benefit a candidate.

Just look at all the Super PACs out there. A pro-Rick Perry one is run by his former chief of staff. A pro-Romney one is led by top aides from his ’08 campaign. And one supporting President Obama is run by his former deputy press secretary. And we haven't even delved into the Super PACs popping up for Senate and House races (remember Howard Berman has one for him started by longtime supporters). And these entities can raise and spend unlimited amounts of money. For all intents and purposes, the pre-Watergate bags of cash are now back. And it's happening right before our eyes.

And on Paul Ryan’s plan: On “Meet the Press,” Gingrich called it “right-wing social engineering.”

He flopped by apologizing to Ryan: “I made a mistake,” he said, adding, “The fact is that I have supported what Ryan has tried to do on the budget.” But then, with little fanfare, he apparently flipped again at his Nov. 6 “debate” with Herman Cain, when he said, “I do not favor a mandatory premium support model.” For more, New York magazine has a host of others from Gingrich over the years.


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