Republicans against Newt: The emerging campaign to destroy the Gingrich campaign
Well, you had to know it was coming...
With Newt Gingrich actually threatening to take the Republican presidential nomination, the establishment, led by the likes of Karl Rove (who has previously taking it upon himself to destroy Rick Perry), is all set to do whatever it takes to knock him down. It'll be a trickle at first, a mild criticism here and there, a couple of harsh words, but then it will broaden into an all-out effort to make sure he doesn't win.
When Representative Peter King called me between votes on Thursday afternoon to talk about his party's current presidential front-runner, Newt Gingrich, he joked that the conversation would ruin his day, but that he would "try to be even-handed."
He duly started out with the nice stuff.
"First of all, we would not have won the House back if it weren't for Newt," King said. "He did have a vision. We had that first 100 days with the Contract with America. We got through at least ten pieces of legislation. He certainly provided direction at the start."
But, King said, "The problem was, over a period of time, he couldn't stay focused. He was undisciplined. Too often, he made it about himself."
Whatever else you want to call King (supporter of terrorism, anti-Muslim bigot), there's no denying that he's a GOP establishmentarian, an old-school northeasterner with connections to the various moneyed interests that run the party -- or at least used to. And in going after Newt, giving him a warm embrace (he once did great things for the GOP) but then sticking the knife in (he's an egomaniacal maniac with no shot of winning the general election), he's clearly playing the role of establishment surrogate. Mitt Romney must have smiled when he heard this, if he wasn't in on it. He is, after all, the establishment pick.
As long as the Newt surge continues, as long as Newt remains a real threat to take the nomination, look for much more of this in the days and weeks ahead. (It's one thing for Ron Paul to run an anti-Newt ad, quite another, and much more dangerous for Gingrich, for the establishment to launch an anti-Newt campaign.)