“I endorsed the Republican who has been endorsed by the National Rifle Association, opposes the Obama health plan, signed the ‘no-tax-increase’ pledge, and supports a comprehensive energy plan like I do,” says Gingrich.
Third-party candidates like conservative Doug Hoffman, Scozzafava’s challenger, often serve only to divide the GOP, says Gingrich. “Just look at what’s happening in New Jersey’s gubernatorial race,” he says, pointing to the campaign of independent candidate Chris Daggett, who has siphoned support from Republican candidate Chris Christie. “What’s happening in New York and in New Jersey should be a sober warning to every purist in this country.”
“If you seek to be a perfect minority, you’ll remain a minority,” says Gingrich.
In other words, he’s treating this race as a litmus test to prove how big-tent the GOP can be. But … why? There’s no good reason to make this district, which should be a safe Republican seat, into a bellwether. Get a conservative elected and then find some socially liberal libertarians in purple districts to champion next year. Like Ace says, Scozzafava is so questionable that it’s not clear whether she’d be better than the Democrat, and since this is a special election, she’s probably looking at another challenge from Doug Hoffman a year from now anyway. I don’t get why Gingrich is digging in here: If he runs for president, this’ll be used against him by Romney et al., and if he doesn’t run for president, it’ll hurt his standing among conservatives as a senior statesman/spokesman for the party. Mystifying.
Meanwhile, it turns out that Scozzafava’s own husband was the one who called the cops on John McCormack after he dared ask her a few questions in the parking lot. (Quote from a Scozzafava spokesman: “I have no doubt he intended to follow her home, too. His actions were reprehensible.”) Um, if her husband was right there, what was he so worried about? Did he think McCormack was going to pull a gun or something? More background from Bill Kristol, defending his reporter:
Let me emphasize: I have full confidence in the truth of John’s account. And I won’t allow a desperate campaign to try to tarnish the fine reputation John has built as a fair and accurate reporter — and, for that matter, a very decent and mild-mannered young man.
As it happens, I was standing near John’s desk in the office this past Friday. The phone rang. It was Scozzafava campaign spokesman Matt Burns, who didn’t like something John had reported, and started yelling abusively at him the moment he answered the phone. We could hear Mr. Burns ten feet away. I gather Mr. Burns called later to apologize. I suppose John would accept another apology by the Scozzafava campaign. But it really would be better not to start down the road of berating reporters for accurately reporting the facts, or of calling the police when your candidate doesn’t like the questions reporters are asking.
She’s bad on the issues and bad with the media? No wonder Hoffman’s urging her to quit the race. Well played, Newt.
Update: Actually, here’s the real reason Hoffman’s nudging her. She’s out of gas:
What all sides seem to agree on is that Scozzafava is fading — whether slightly or badly depends on which candidate you support — due largely to her inability to raise enough money to defend herself from attacks from the right (from Hoffman/Club) and the left (from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.
While none of the three candidates have filed fundraising reports with the Federal Election Committee yet, it’s an open secret among Republicans that Scozzafava has badly underperformed in the money chase and, as a result, is barely a presence at all on television in the final 14 days of the race.
The Scozzafava fade — assuming it continues — will create a new group of undecided voters for Owens and Hoffman to try and cherry-pick.
Update: Equal time for Newt. Does this make it better? A little?