27 December 2011

Pot Shots Between GOP Primary Opponents

Last week, Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-GA 6th) failed to qualify to be included on the March 6th Virginia Republican Primary ballot for lack of valid signatures.  The state of Virginia requires that a candidate submit 10,000 signatures from voters registered in the state of Virginia, and those signatures must include at least 400 from each of the Old Dominion’s 11 congressional districts.

In order to rally supporters after this setback, Gingrich campaign spokesman Mark Krull stated: “Newt and I agreed that the analogy is December 1941: We have experienced an unexpected setback, but we will regroup and refocus...[I]n the end we will stand victorious.” It is unlikely that legal challenges to include Newt on the primary ballot will be successful, considering the tight time-frame as well as clear but possibly onerous requirements.

As the primary race continued after a short Christmas break, Governor Mitt Romney (R-MA) took a pot shot at Gingrich’s military metaphor.  Romney noted: "I think he [Gingrich] compared it to Pearl Harbor. I think it’s more like Lucille Ball and the chocolate factory.”  A funny one liner which gives homage to that classic I Love Lucy episode, but Romney might have some 'splaining to do and he  should not expect a box of sweets from the Speaker for the foreseeable future. 

This episode illustrates a couple of traits amongst the candidates.  Gingrich has resurrected his Presidential campaign by grabbing the spotlight with boisterous bluster that can appeal to the base.  But Gingrich has been delinquent on fund-raising.  In fact, the Gingrich campaign had not dug itself out of debt from its near implosion in May until early December. The empty campaign chest necessitated Gingrich to score points with earned media, especially during the numerous debates.  Yet sparse campaign funds do not allow for establishing campaign organization, which is crucial in caucus states like Iowa or quirky primary requirements in Virginia.

Romney seized on an opportunity to zing an opponent, which was the hallmark of his 2008 campaign viz-a-viz Governor Mike Huckabee (R-AR). This negative campaigning was needless, as Gingrich’s Pearl Harbor quote was injurious in and of itself without piling unto it.  While it was amusing, the zinger was small ball at a time when the base needs convincing about candidates’  meta-messages Romney’s “I Love Lucy” analogy also seems like too perfect of a zinger, which contributes to questions about Romney’s authenticity.

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