The best defense is a good offense.
Speaker Gingrich showed last night why he’s won many of the debates this year.
CNN and John King, the moderator, thought they had Gingrich by starting out the debate with a question about his wife’s appearance later in the evening on ABC claiming Newt wanted an open marriage. No waffling, no groveling, no equivocation, no cowering. No appeasement of the media.
Nope, Newt Gingrich was prepared. He probably couldn’t believe, in his wildest dreams, that John King would start the debate with the question. What luck! The Speaker could set the tone for the debate and win the sound bite battle.
He was ready. He hit the question back at ABC, CNN, and the media for their bias, for their scurrilous (my word) attacks on conservatives while protecting President Obama. The Speaker threw red meat to the Republicans in the red state of South Carolina and nationally. The response was electric - two standing ovations and most likely victory tomorrow in the South Carolina primary.
The public knows the media is biased, but no major candidate yet this year had directly attacked the media. One study shows only 22% of NBC’s coverage of the Republican candidates is favorable. 78% is negative. CBS, which learnt its lesson with Dan Rather, and Fox are the most balanced in their coverage.
Republicans know the media tried to avoid Governor Clinton’s “Bimbo Eruptions” in the 1992 campaign, explaining a lot was “old news.” The Speaker’s divorce is “old news.” Even the story about “an open marriage” was in Esquire magazine last year.
Republicans understand that the media will not normally run a story without two independent sources. Yet ABC was featuring two days before the primary election a story by Marianne Gingrich about their divorce without any validation. The normal rules of journalistic integrity do not apply to Republicans.
Republicans know the media, led by AP, “parachuted” into Wasilla, Alaska in 2008 to flyspeck every inch of Governor Palin’s public and personal life, giving publicity to some of the most outrageous accusations. Yet, they gave Senator Obama a pass.
Republicans know that any misstatement by Governor Palin or Representative Bachman would be blown up as if the two female politicians were blithering idiots. But Vice President Biden also gets a free pass from the media. He said the other day in San Francisco that he was rooting for the Giants to win the playoff game this weekend. The Vice President doesn’t understand the San Francisco Giants play baseball and the New York Giants football. The media also gives him a pass on his past ethical issues. Imagine the media frenzy if a Republican candidate made that mistake.
Republicans witnessed the media destroying Herman Cain a few months ago. So much for wanting a campaign based on issues and ideas.
The public wants to see strength in their candidates.
Governor Reagan lost the 1996 Iowa caucuses to George H. W. Bush. Due to legal issues, the Governor paid for the debate in New Hampshire. An issue arose over whether the debate would be between just Reagan and Bush, or open to other candidates. The moderator ordered Reagan’s microphone cut off.
Ronald Reagan yelled out “I am paying for this microphone, Mr. Green.” New Hampshire voters loved his statement of force. He won the election that night in Nashua.
Perhaps so too with Speaker Gingrich.
However, the consensus is he won the Monday’s debate and Senator Santorum last night’s. The clear loser in both debates is Governor Romney, who cannot, for whatever reason, articulate why he won’t release his tax returns (What is he hiding?), Bain Capital, or RomneyCare. He’s smart. He had to know these issues were coming, but he seems unprepared to handle them.
Strength – the public wants strength in their President.
Speaker Gingrich showed it last night.