Newt is an excellent speaker, and he has command of the data that he needs to make his case for the power of free markets to lift Americans out of poverty. This is Newt at his best: defending capitalism rather than harping on Mitt Romney for his business success. He did a great job on Monday evening. In spite of the FOX moderator, Juan Williams, and his attempts to crowd Newt into a corner as insensitive at best and perhaps as a racist at worst, Newt took careful and energetic aim and gave it back to him with both barrels. And he stayed on topic.
When asked if it was a way to belittle the poor to propose that their children work part-time jobs in the schools they attend, Newt answered flatly, “No, I don’t see that. They’d be getting money, which is a good thing if you’re poor. Only the elites despise earning money.” Regarding the extended availablity of unemployment, he quipped, “Ninety-nine weeks is an associate degree.”
Regarding his previous comments about Mr. Obama being a “food stamp president” that raised the ire of some African Americans, Newt emphatically stated that “saying to somebody, ‘I’ll help you if you’re willing to help yourself’ is good — and we think unconditional efforts by the best food stamp president in American history to maximize dependency is terrible for the future of this country.”
Perhaps the best comments of the evening from any candidate came when Newt brought the audience to its feet in cheers with these words: “I believe every American of every background has been endowed by their creator with the right to pursue happiness — and if that makes liberals unhappy, I’m gonna continue to find ways to help poor people learn how to get a job, learn how to get a better job, and learn someday to own the job.”
My prediction is that Newt will do better in South Carolina than he did in Iowa and New Hampshire. Is it enough to save his campaign? I doubt it. If he had been as focused from the beginning as marvelously as he was Monday night, he might be looking better now.
On the other hand, for someone who claims to be the only genuine conservative in the GOP race who can beat Obama, it’s hard to explain his “park-bench niceties” with Nancy Pelosi a while back. He has made it clear that global warming, in his opinion, is anthropogenic (caused by humans), and that government needs to impose regulations to stop it.
Newt, like Romney, is surely more conservative than Obama, but both Newt and Romney see the nation’s problems in terms of more government involvement, not less. They’re big-government Republicans. That’s the paradigm from which they operate. It informs all their decisions, albeit with a greater nod to the Constitution than Obama and his Democrat allies would grant.
On Tuesday of this week Nancy Pelosi had something to say about the GOP contenders. “This crowd that they have there, it’s not exactly what you would call the first string of the Republican Party,” she claimed. By her standards, that means they aren’t liberal enough. By the standards of constitutional conservatives, they already sound enough like Ms. Pelosi.