How much does Newt Gingrich hate Mitt Romney?

Enough to drop out and leave him head-to-head against Santorum? Now *that* would be a dirty trick.

Mitt Romney and his SuperPac not only destroyed Newt Gingrich’s campaign, they assassinated his character: with a little bit of help, of course, from Newton Leroy himself. The Gingrich campaign, having morphed from a book tour into a serious run (for one brief, scary moment) at the Presidency, has now been transformed again, this time into a revenge drama.

But just how angry is Gingrich?

Is he angry enough, for example, to withdraw from the race, putting Romney in the position that was always Romney’s nightmare: head to head against a single extremist? Now that would be a low blow.

Santorum’s surge after Tuesday’s hat trick – he’s now even with, or even ahead of, Romney in national polls of Republicans – shows, for about he fourth time, how badly most of the GOP base doesn’t want Mitt Romney as the nominee: they’d coalesce around Hannibal Lecter if he were the clear alternative.

Santorum, with fewer wives than Gingrich and a less spectacular history of influence-peddling, simply does not present the same target-rich environment that Gingrich does in the context of a Republican primary. Even without the big bucks, Santorum might make a race of it, if it came down to a choice simple enough for even a Tea Partier to understand.

I don’t think this will happen, for the same reason that Bill Clinton missed the chance to take his revenge by resigning in early 1999, which would have stirred up sympathy for Clinton and rage against his foes while allowing Gore to campaign as the incumbent. Yes, Gingrich cherishes his grudges; but it will probably turn out that he cherishes his media appearances even more.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact:

13 thoughts on “How much does Newt Gingrich hate Mitt Romney?”

  1. I think it would have been wrong for Clinton to resign in the face of the deranged Republican vendetta on his legitimacy as President. It would have been an abdication of his responsibilities, in fact of fiduciary obligations that he had undertaken. And on top of that it would have set an extremely bad precedent legally and politically.

    1. I agree, it would have been wrong to reward the GOP’s infantile temper-tantrum by resigning. But in terms of long-term revenge, it would probably have been the best of all possible moves. Gore would have been campaigning for election as an incumbent, and incumbency is tremendously powerful. Bush became President only because he was able to be close to throw it to the Supreme Court. I don’t think that happens if President Gore is running for a term in his own right.

      And that would have the potential for changing so many things over the past decade…

  2. I think that the Republican base would prefer Hannibal Lecter to St. Ronnie, much less Mitt Romney. Indeed, Dr. Lecter would be their dream candidate. He’s really tough on [insert demon], with no namby-pamby political correctness. The Republican elite, of course, would go along if Dr. Lecter were good on taxes and regulation.

    1. Oh and I forgot. The Ayn Rand contingent would adore President Lecter. A strong man who plays by his own rules, with no regard for the “morals” of the weak. They would forgive him for being more of an (ahem) consumer than a producer.

      1. But do you think they could get past his fondness for a good chianti. At least it’s not merlot but still it is red wine and european to boot. European bad and socialist.

        1. That’s easy. “I ate his liver, with a glass of iced tea and some nice black-eyed peas, both of which, by the way, elitists wouldn’t touch with a ten-foot pole from Urban Outfitters.”

  3. Not only would Clinton have vindicated GOP efforts, he’d also set the Democrat-only precedent that when faced with overwhelming GOP bile, the Democratic politician should fold.

    Second, do you really think that they wouldn’t have immediately gone after Gore?

  4. …shows, for about he fourth time, how badly most of the GOP base doesn’t want Mitt Romney as the nominee…

    Which reminds me of a comment (I believe Redwave) written in response to one of Mark’s Romney posts a ways back…
    Wherein it was asserted that the Republicans were just having fun, that they were coming to their senses and coalescing about Rmoney.
    And that by-George, we liberals were trembling in our Birkenstocks, because Rmoney was going to storm the country like a stock bubble…
    And so on in great gasps of purple-red passion.

    If you guys are collecting comments worthy of rewards…
    That one deserves an Ig.

  5. HI Mark,
    I’m afraid that the ugly fact that slays this beautiful theory is that it’s not the case that Republican primary voters fervently prefer anybody else to Romney in a one-to-one matchup. In fact, Romney beats every other Republican candidate by a large majority in a one-to-one matchup. Romney is not beloved by most Republican primary voters, but those who find him unacceptable as a nominee are a distinct minority (and other candidates are also unpopular among various wings or factions of the party). Nate Silver has been blogging on this a lot, for instance here:
    The argument can be run more subtly, in terms of enthusiasm, turnout, and so forth. If Gingrich ran around saying that Romney was so liberal that he’d prefer that Obama win, or actively supported a third-party candidate against Romney, that might be enough to cost Romney the election (though I think Romney’s going to lose anyway—and I don’t think Gingrich would ever do either of those things). But that’s very different from saying that Gingrich could, by withdrawing and endorsing, deny Romney the nomination.

    1. By the way, I’m not saying that Romney is bound to win the nomination. Silver’s post was a long time ago in primary terms, and Romney’s poll numbers vis-a-vis Santorum’s may have durably changed. (See here, with caveats: ) I’m saying that if Romney does lose, it will be because of complex factors (including decreasing certainty that Romney would be a strong candidate against Obama) and not because there’s long been a Republican consensus for anybody-but-Romney, frustrated only by the existence of a fragmented field.

      Finally, let’s not forget Ron Paul. Some Tea Party supporters who find Romney too wet continue to support Paul, who seems determined not to withdraw no matter what.

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