“Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney blasted rival Newt Gingrich Tuesday as an ‘extremely unreliable leader in the conservative world’ who has taken positions in this campaign that should give GOP voters pause as they consider their choices for the party’s nomination…

“‘He has been an extraordinarily unreliable leader in the conservative world—not 16 or 17 years ago but in the last two to three years,’ Romney said. ‘And even during the campaign, the number of times he has moved from one spot to another has been remarkable. I think he’s shown a level of unreliability as a conservative leader today.’…

“‘Let’s look at the record,’ he said. ‘When Republicans were fighting for cap and trade and needed a leader to stand up against cap and trade, he did an ad with Nancy Pelosi about global warming,’ he said. ‘When Republicans took one of the most courageous votes I’ve seen in at least a decade to call for the reform of Medicare under the Paul Ryan plan, he goes public and says this is a ‘right-wing social engineering’ plan. Even today he called it ‘suicide.'”


“1994 is very tough on Romney. The contrast between Romney and Gingrich in this year of GOP ascendancy and congressional clout unrealized since the days of Eisenhower and Truman that many conservatives may find it disqualifying. Whatever Republicans come to think of Gingrich’s leadership style as speaker, they know Gingrich helped lead the GOP to its first House majority in 40 years and didn’t tinker around the edges with his newly won power. An agenda that achieved spending cuts, sought and over time won a balanced budget, welfare reform, tax cuts, telecommunications reform and congressional reform is not and was not timid…

“At the same time, Romney was running against Kennedy in Massachusetts, a liberal state where a successful Republican had to soften some of the harder edges of the GOP’s anti-Clinton, anti-Democratic rhetoric. Romney softened them past the state of sponginess and came out on the hardened side of opposition…

“Gingrich called the idea of a party committing to an agenda and inviting voters to throw them out if they didn’t follow through ‘revolutionary.’ At an important moment in the party’s history and ideological move toward conservatism, Gingrich and Romney drew very different conclusions about what would work and what would fail. This is known as a contrast and a historical fact.”


“Inside D.C., it sounds very strange to say that Gingrich is an ‘outsider.’ Gingrich has eaten from just about every trough imaginable inside the Beltway. And yet, he’s always been very clear that he wants to (‘fundamentally,’ ‘historically,’ ‘categorically’ and ‘radically’) overturn the existing order. Some critics always thought, plausibly, that such pronouncements were part of his act or a sign of his megalomania.

“But there’s another possibility: It’s true. Moreover, the times may be ripe for precisely the sort of vexing, vainglorious and all-too-human revolutionary Gingrich claims to be. That’s the argument a few people have been wrestling with. Gingrich, after all, is the only candidate to actually move the government rightward. While getting wealthy off the old order, he’s been plotting for decades how to get rid of it. To paraphrase Lenin, perhaps the K Streeters paid Gingrich to build the gallows he will hang them on?

“That remains a stretch. Mitt Romney is still the sensible choice if you believe these are rough, but generally sensible, times. If, however, you think these are crazy and extraordinary times, then perhaps they call for a crazy, extraordinary — very high-risk, very high-reward — figure like Gingrich.”


“Our world that’s coming is a world of narrowing, not widening, choices. It’s a world that suits Mr. Romney’s skills and history, his knack for operating within constraints and making choices based on data, data, data. Mr. Obama lives in the same world, of course, but is unequipped to deal with it given his dubious gifts for execution, execution, execution. Also, given his inclination to seek refuge in a clueless reverie of big new programs at a time when the resources simply don’t exist.

“Nor is there a Big Idea that can transform our unhappy prospects. Lunar mining will not rescue Medicare. People like Mr. Gingrich play a useful role in politics: It’s good to be able to talk thrillingly about history, civilization. But they make bad—perhaps we should say, unnecessary—presidents. When ideas are new and unfamiliar, they’re not executable. When they’re executable we need people who can execute.

“The consensus for painful reform comes when the status quo hits the wall. It’s a myth that we don’t know what our choices are. That’s the Romney moment. His strong suit has always been to do what everyone else has put off.”


“Just as Kerry’s candidacy represented an attempt to effectively out-patriot George W. Bush (‘You have a war president? We have a war hero!’), the former speaker has skillfully played to the Republican desire for a candidate who can finally outsmart and out-orate Obama…

“In reality, Kerry outdebated Bush but did not outpoll him, Al Gore won the 2000 debates on points only to lose them on personality, and Abraham Lincoln lost the Illinois Senate race to Stephen Douglas. When a presidential debate does matter to a campaign’s outcome, it’s usually a passing one-liner (Ronald Reagan’s ‘there you go again’ Walter Mondale’s ‘where’s the beef?’) rather than a Ciceronian performance that makes the difference.

“More important for the Republican Party’s purposes, it isn’t 2008 anymore, and conservatives don’t actually need to explode the fantasy of Obama’s eloquence and omnicompetence. The harsh reality of governing has already done that for them. Nobody awaits the president’s speeches with panting anticipation these days, or expects him to slay his opponents with the power of his intellect. Obamamania peaked with the inauguration, and it’s been ebbing ever since…

“Conservatives may want catharsis, but the rest of the public seems to mainly want reassurance.”


“‘The longer this race goes, the more you’re going to see these Republican candidates try to mortgage the general election to try and win the primary campaign,’ said David Axelrod, the chief strategist for the president’s re-election campaign. He added, ‘They’re being tugged to the right every day.’…

“‘Just remember, the higher a monkey climbs on a pole, the more you can see his butt,’ Mr. Axelrod said. ‘So, you know, the speaker is very high on the pole right now, and we’ll see how people like the view.'”


“In a written statement, Romney welcomed the endorsement.

“‘Christine has been a leader in the conservative movement for many years,’ Romney said. ‘Christine recognizes that excessive government threatens us now and threatens future generations, and I am pleased to have her on my team.'”