Newt failed to make the ballot in his adopted state of Virginia. There’s no doubt that ballot access in Virginia is onerous. You need 10,000 signatures (400 from each Congressional district) and only Virginia voters can collect the signatures. I think they need to change this law for next time.
Nonetheless, the rules are the rules. And Romney and Paul both got on the ballot.
Romney poked fun both at Newt Gingrich’s organizational problems as well as his grandiose reaction to missing the ballot.
Campaigning in New Hampshire on Tuesday, Romney was asked about Gingrich not getting on the ballot in Virginia and answered, “I think he compared that to Pearl Harbor? I think it’s more like Lucille Ball at the chocolate factory” — a reference to the “I Love Lucy” show in which an incompetent Lucy was swamped on a chocolate candy assembly line that she couldn’t keep up with.
“You’ve got to get it organized,” Romney zinged.
So did Newt respond like the happy warrior Ronald Reagan with humor? Ah, no.
“I want to see him say that to my face,” Gingrich said.
You would think that Mitt said something about Newt’s mother. I mean, c’mon. It’s not like Romney’s minor jab was below the belt or beyond the pale. Romney just said that Newt’s campaign is overwhelmed and not able to handle the day-to-day rigors of a 50-state presidential campaign. If Newt is this thin-skinned, he would get sliced and diced by the Obama $1 billion reelect campaign in a minute.
Newt Gingrich’s supporters have expressed great confidence that Newt would destroy Barack Obama in the presidential debates, thus vaulting him into the White House.
There are several flaws to this argument. First, a lot of voters simply don’t watch all of the debates. They might watch one or a portion of one. Many don’t watch them at all. They simply watch recaps of the debates on the news. And the debates themselves are not the beginning and end of the presidential campaign. There are other highlights like the convention speech, too.
But the heart of the campaign, where most of the impressions of the candidates are formed, comes not from the convention speech or the debates. It comes from the long slog of the daily media battle and the TV ad wars.
And on this account, Newt Gingrich has proven to be a very weak candidate.
He got distracted by a discussion of child labor laws and employing children as janitors. He spent the entire week before Christmas off message complaining all the time about the attack ads against him. And as noted above, his campaign compared his failure to make the ballot in Virginia to the surprise attack where thousands of Americans died at Pearl Harbor.
The debates propelled Newt into a lead among national Republican primary voters, but his lead in Iowa has completely evaporated after a deluge of ads by Mitt Romney and Ron Paul. Of course, Newt has complained about these attack ads, but has refused to “go negative.” The main reason he hasn’t responded with attack ads isn’t really because of nobility, but because his campaign simply doesn’t have the money. And this means that Newt’s lead in Florida and South Carolina will melt once TV ads start there.
Reacting to Newt’s pledge not to run any attack ads, Dan McLaughlin said it well: “Newt hasn’t pledged to run only positive ads in the general election, right? Because that would be a deal-breaker.”
After all, that truce would be a one-sided disarmament.