Gingrich Casts Self as 'Braveheart' — 'Perfect' Tea Party Candidate

Monday, 21 Nov 2011 02:13 PM

By Margaret Menge

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Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich contends that he’s the “perfect” Republican presidential candidate for the tea party movement and warns that nominating Mitt Romney would result in a “passionless” election.

Gingrich makes the comments in a front-page profile in USA Today that also features a USA Today/Gallup poll that lists Gingrich on top with 22 percent of Republican voters.

Newt Gingrich, Romney“If you go out and see what’s happening in the tea party, the last thing you want is a passionless election,” the story quotes Gingrich as saying, in reference to a recent column by former Labor Secretary Robert Reich in the Christian Science Monitor.

“Remember 'Braveheart'?” Gingrich said. “These people want somebody who plants a flag in the ground, gives a speech and yells ‘Charge!’”

Gingrich has met recent criticism of his work as a consultant for Freddie Mac and as a high-paid adviser to healthcare companies with an “Answering the Attacks” website, USA Today notes, adding that Gingrich “hopes to spin inquiries into the quartet of companies he founded (known collectively as “Newt, Inc.”) into an asset, promising fuller disclosure ahead of what he did and for whom.”

Longtime Republican political consultant Ed Rollins told the newspaper that he ran into Gingrich in the lobby of the Marriott Hotel in West Des Moines the night before the Iowa Straw Poll. Gingrich told him he didn’t think he was going to win, but he wanted to “drive the message.”

“This party definitely needs a new intellectual process,” Rollins quoted Gingrich as telling him.

Rollins was in Iowa at the time as manager of Rep. Michele Bachmann’s presidential campaign. He offered the following assessment of Gingrich to USA Today: “He always had 25 ideas, and 20 were good ideas and five were idiotic, and he loved them all equally.”

Asked about the accusation that his enormous consulting fees from Freddie and healthcare companies amounted to “crony capitalism,” Gingrich told USA Today: “I wasn’t in office, and I didn’t rely on cronies.”

Gingrich said he expects Romney to raise more campaign cash, but he himself “will have more talk radio.”

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