POLITICS

Gingrich: “If you’re a Republican on Letterman, you’re in the opposition camp”

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Politics,Beltway Confidential,Sean Higgins

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich said the problem with his one-time
rival Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign was that it was being run by
inside-the-beltway Republican consultants with a narrow,
shortsighted focus.

He added that Romney was wrong to think that 47% of voters were out of
his reach and that a presidential candidate should try to reach out to
100% of voters.

That’s what Reagan would do, the ex-Speaker added.

Gingrich, whose own bid to be president evolved into a bitter feud
with Romney during the primaries, talked about the campaign with the
Examiner editorial board Thursday. He was making the rounds to discuss
his latest project, promoting domestic energy exploration.

“The number one thing the Romney people, and Romney himself, has to do
is to slow the campaign down and not get diverted by the latest
attack,” he said.

He added that the campaign is “not going to make him more likable than
Obama. They can however make him more desirable than Obama.” That is, make voters seem like he is a better choice even if they don’t feel as warm towards him.

Gingrich said the Romney campaign was stuck in a “mindset of
Republican consultants,” a narrow vision that focused on responding to
the latest attacks and winning the current news cycle without pulling
back to view the larger picture. He said it needed to focus on big
issues that “appeal to 80% of the voters.”

He strongly disagreed with Romney’s apparent belief that 47 percent of
the electorate had already made up their minds and his job was to go
for the remaining 5-10 percent of swing voters. “You’ve got to make an
appeal to all of the voters,” he said. Gingrich said it could work if
it was framed as an appeal to the “Romney recovery verses the Obama
stagnation.”

Gingrich said that the Romney campaign had to unplug themselves from
the daily media, ignore them and focus on repeating their message
incessantly. Margaret Thatcher, he argued, did not read daily papers
because “she did not want to get distracted by them.” Romney should
follow her example and no try to compete with the White House in media appearances.

“If you’re a Republican on Letterman, you’re in the opposition
camp,” Gingrich said.

Bad press, he argued, doesn’t matter if the message still gets out to voters. He cited himself as an example, noting how in late 1994 Time and Newsweek ran covers featuring him as Scrooge and the Grinch, respectively.

“What did people learn from those covers? That I was serious about welfare reform,” he said.

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