Newt Gingrich now finds himself channeling Mark Twain, insisting that "reports of my campaign's death are highly exaggerated."
As if to demonstrate that he has a strong political heartbeat, the former House speaker called the Democrats a "fundamentally irresponsible" party pushing health care "rationing" and, for good measure, branded President Obama "patently dishonest."
Despite the fact that he was attending his 36th Christian Science Monitor breakfast on Monday morning, Gingrich insisted he was a "people's candidate," not a Washington figure. In a bit of rhetorical jujitsu, he said the negative coverage of his mistakes over the past week made clear that "I'm definitely not the candidate of the Washington establishment."
Gingrich has now gotten with the (Paul Ryan) program to turn Medicare into a voucher program, despite dissing it on Meet the Press as "right-wing social engineering." He said seniors can choose among 258,000 items at Wal-Mart "but we have a giant bureaucracy in Washington that controls every aspect of their health." (One of the things that makes the Ryan plan hugely controversial, of course, is that the elderly are generally satisfied with Medicare as we know it.)
Gingrich sort of conceded he faces some heavy lifting in changing hearts and minds on the subject, saying that neither party should impose a major program "against the will of the American people."
One interesting twist is the way in which Gingrich now praises the president he helped impeach. He cited his ability to compromise with Bill Clinton on welfare reform and balancing the budget as evidence that he's no mindless partisan. "We romanticize this stuff. Ronald Reagan was a very partisan president."
Gingrich pronounced himself "totally mystified" over the Tiffany's flap, which drew a series of questions Sunday on Face the Nation. He may have run up a tab as high as $500,000, but "I owe no personal debts, none...It's all after-tax income, none of it is public money...I love my wife." He pivoted into an argument that he had made money - enough to afford expensive jewelry - by creating jobs through his organizations, "the opposite of the Obama model."
Gingrich spent part of the time saying he would no longer answer "gotcha" questions - which he defined as reporters asking him about long-ago votes or comments - and briefly donned his media critic's hat, chiding the New York Times for devoting "one quarter" of its front page Sunday "to Lindsay Lohan."
"We live in a society in which gossip replaces serious policy and everyone wrings their hands about how hard it is to have a serious conversation."
Which may be true. But the Times piece was about the rise of outlets such as Radar and TMZ making money and obtaining confidential records about celebrities such as Lohan. No matter: Newt seemed pleased with himself for whacking the paper.
Instead of repenting, Weiner is trying to build a future based on $4 million and change collected from people he fooled, writes Stuart Stevens.