‘Bad Newt’ Is Back at Sunday’s New Hampshire Debate

Gingrich came out swinging against Romney—a shortsighted approach that only hurts him, says Kirsten Powers.

The man that Peggy Noonan recently called “an angry little attack muffin” came out swinging against Mitt Romney in Sunday morning’s Meet the Press debate, after last night leaving the frontrunner essentially unscathed.

Gingrich fell far short of his promise to offer a “happy and positive” contrast to his rival with his snide comment that Mitt should “drop the pious baloney,” after Romney commented on why he didn’t run for reelection as governor of Massachusetts.

Gingrich also repeatedly told viewers to watch a forthcoming anti-Romney movie that Gingrich supporters have bought the rights to. Newt claimed—implausibly—to not have seen it, though he does know that it clocks in at exactly 27 1/2 minutes.

Newt continued with his bizarre attacks against Romney for being a successful businessman. Seemingly unaware that GOP primary voters worship at the altar of the free market, Gingrich has adopted the DNC attack line that Romney is a modern day Gordon Gekko who delights in laying off American workers to line his own pockets. In Gingrich’s world, lobbying for a sleazy quasi-governmental entity that played a role in the U.S. economic meltdown is preferable to creating wealth in the private sector. Good luck with that message in a Republican primary.

So desperate is Newt to destroy the man he blames for his own campaign’s implosion, he has taken to quoting the “liberal media”—The New York Times and The Washington Post—to legitimize his attacks against Romney. Never mind that the only person Gingrich has to blame for his current state of affairs is himself. In a column yesterday, the Washington Examiner’s Byron York reported that primary voters were more turned off by Gingrich’s reaction to the ads against him than the ads themselves. This finding jibes with Iowa exit polls, which showed few voters listing campaign ads as a factor influencing their vote.

Following the debate, the Romney campaign blasted Gingrich for his vengeful “kamikaze mission.” Indeed, if Gingrich was truly trying to win the primary he would be attacking Rick Santorum, who is currently occupying the “anti-Romney” spot. Instead, he is trying to execute a spectacular murder-suicide, though in the end the only person he’s really hurting is himself. While Romney may get a little banged up by the attacks, better to get them out of the way now during the primary so they’re stale by the time Obama makes them in the general.