Perry and Romney Gain By Just Saying NO
This article is about how Governors Mitt Romney and Rick Perry can help themselves and their candidacies at the expense of Newt Gingrich, which is clearly good politicking for both of them, but requires some background first.
There has been much ado in the blogosphere and media about the proposed Newsmax debate on December 27th after it was announced that Donald Trump would serve as moderator, and thus far only two candidates, Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum, have accepted the invitation.
Congressman Ron Paul was quick and correct to decline saying, in part:
“The selection of a reality television personality to host a presidential debate that voters nationwide will be watching is beneath the office of the Presidency and flies in the face of that office’s history and dignity. Mr. Trump’s participation as moderator will distract from questions and answers concerning important issues such as the national economy, crushing federal government debt, the role of the federal government, foreign policy, and the like. To be sure, Mr. Trump’s participation will contribute to an unwanted circus-like atmosphere.”
Former Governor Jon Huntsman was equally as quick and correct to decline, observing:
“I believe that the presidency of the United States of America is beyond reality shows,” Huntsman said. “This is about politics as show business.”
Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann is still considering her options but told CBS News:
“We’re still in the process of looking at it,” Rep. Bachmann said and then further stated, “One concern is he’s already leaning towards a candidate, so there’s questions about objectivity.” In a subsequent statement she also said of Donald Trump “I have great respect for him.”
Clearly the Congresswoman is hedging her bets, something I won’t do since I believe Donald Trump is a buffoon interested only in self-aggrandizement and promotion of his own best interests.
Nothing though stopped former Speaker Newt Gingrich from defending Trump from Paul’s statement, saying the following after a one-hour meeting with Trump:
“I’m actually very surprised that one of my friends would have said that,” Gingrich said, noting that an actor who appeared with a chimp (Ronald Reagan) became president, as well as a former peanut farmer. “This is a country of enormously wide-open talent. You know, Donald Trump is a great showman. He’s also a great businessman. … I think that we have to be open to new ways of doing things and new ways of approaching things.”
I disagree with Gingrich as Trump has not proven himself to be the businessman he would like us to think he is and his public declaration of net worth is dramatically overstated. Remember this is a man that has filed for bankruptcy no less than four times, all as leverage to force lenders to restructure debt. A glaring example of his continual abuse of the system for his own personal gain and his current involvement in national politics has no different end goal.
So how do Romney and Perry elevate themselves while damaging the Gingrich campaign? It’s really quite simple and Newt has provided all the required ammunition.
In his quick, almost immediate, acceptance to attend this debate and his subsequent defense of Trump as an influencer of national politics, the former Speaker has again demonstrated that there is nothing beneath him in seeking personal gain. His chastisement of former Presidents Ronald Reagan and Jimmy Carter in the above statement and his completely transparent groveling for Trump’s endorsement are all the fodder the Romney and Perry campaigns need.
First and foremost, both camps have to immediately say no to their respective invitations. Then there are a couple of options, one more aggressive than the other.
They can schedule individual campaign events to openly denounce the ill effects of the circus-like atmosphere of the GOP primary and it’s negative impact on the ultimate goal of defeating President Obama in November, and further state openly that Trump’s endorsement is not something they seek or would accept. That’s how you one-up a showman!
AUTHOR’S NOTE: Polling indicates that the majority of voters don’t care either way about a Trump endorsement but when stating an opinion it is notable that vastly more people consider a Trump endorsement a turn-off rather than a positive.
The second, most aggressive option is to schedule an alternative debate on the same night supported by one of the major news networks and moderated by an impartial and politically relevant panel of experts. Gingrich and Santorum obviously would not be invited as they have a prior commitment and any of the major news channels will quickly outpace ION in coverage. If Gingrich then backs out of the Newsmax/Trump debate and asks for an invitation he is left in a politically suicidal position.
As many are want to refer to Trump as a great showman”, I’ll defer to the ultimate showman P.T. Barnum who said “there’s a sucker born every minute”, and in this case that sucker becomes New Gingrich.
AUTHOR’S NOTE: While writing this article Newsmax has reported that Rep. Steve King and ATR chairman, Grover Norquist, have come out supporting the debate. My reaction is that their statements have little effect on the overall circumstances. Simply ask yourself “since when do debates themselves need endorsements unless they are struggling for real viability?” If Newsmax is serious about hosting a debate of true value then dismiss Trump as the moderator, put together a panel of relevant and articulate professionals, like Mike Huckabee did, and I’ll be happy to support that debate.