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The Long Arm of Newt Gingrich

Shimmy Blum

Newt Gingrich capped a remarkable week, in which he surged to the top of the Republican presidential polls, by launching a major outreach campaign to America’s Jewish voters. Is this straight-talking, southern-Republican the GOP’s savior or the next in a growing list of stumbling front-runners?

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

In a race in which the lead has changed hands more often than in the Indy 500, the newest, and likely last, Republican presidential candidate to eclipse presumed front-runner Mitt Romney in the polls is former House Speaker Newt Gingrich. Gingrich has surged in the polls, both nationally and in crucial early primary states, taking a large lead over Romney in three of the first four states that will vote next month.

While some pundits are predicting a protracted Gingrich-Romney battle, others have ventured the opinion that if either of the two GOP front-runners can win three of the first four races (Iowa, New Hampshire, Florida, and South Carolina) that candidate will be unbeatable.

The task for Mr. Gingrich, who is saddled with campaign debt and was seen as dead until several weeks ago, is tall. He must play catch-up with the well-funded and organized Romney. If Mr. Gingrich will indeed emerge victorious, it will be thanks to his bold nature, innovative intellect, and soaring oratory skills.

These attributes have led the man who was elected to Congress in 1978 from Georgia to later author the “Contract with America,” which among other proposals, called for a balanced federal budget, and is credited with propelling the GOP to historic victories in congressional and gubernatorial races in 1994. After the Republicans took control of both houses of Congress that year, Mr. Gingrich served as the House speaker and used his oomph to go toe-to-toe with President Bill Clinton, and helped pass a balanced budget, welfare reform, and other conservative goals.


Jewish Outreach

Clearly savoring his chance to shine, Mr. Gingrich is as bold as ever. In a conference call on Friday specifically for Jewish activists and journalists, including Mishpacha, he touted his strong pro-Israel and national security bona fides. “I doubt that anyone running is as knowledgeable [on Middle East affairs] as I am,” he said. The candidate was in typical form, firing off blunt responses to a host of unscripted questions, oftentimes out of order.

Two days earlier, Mr. Gingrich joined his rivals, addressing the Republican Jewish Coalition (RJC) to thunderous applause. Subsequently, Mr. Gingrich told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer that “my bias is towards clemency” for Jonathan Pollard and spoke of a “joint operation” between the US and Israel to destroy Iran’s nuclear capabilities. Over the weekend, the front-runner took flak for calling the Palestinians an “invented” people in an interview with The Jewish Channel.

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