For those who wonder what good Newt Gingrich does by staying in the race, Larry Kudlow may have an answer. After getting hammered by Gingrich and his super-PAC about a lack of bold change in his 59-page economic plan, Mitt Romney will release a new, bolder plan as early as tomorrow night’s debate, and definitely by the end of the week in Detroit:
I’m embargoed from releasing details until tomorrow. But I can say that the new plan will be across-the-board with supply-side incentives from rate reduction, and that it will help small-business owners as well as everyone else.
This is noteworthy on a couple of levels. Gingrich has been attacking Romney’s plan as incremental for weeks, since before Iowa’s caucuses during Gingrich’s first surge. (Gingrich has also been attacking Rick Santorum for lacking boldness in his economic plan as well.) Gingrich hasn’t been a threat to Romney of late, but it’s also been clear that Romney hasn’t evoked any of the passion that Gingrich does among his own hard-core supporters. As Santorum takes the national lead and momentum in upcoming races, Romney may have decided that he needs to provide more of a reason to get people to vote for him, as opposed to against the rest of the field.
Second, the leak to Kudlow is interesting as well. The Romney team hasn’t exactly been focused on grooming contacts with conservative media outlets, perhaps in anticipation of an easy walk to the nomination and the need to appear more moderate in a general election. As his spending depletes his campaign coffers and another competitor starts to eclipse him — this time it’s Santorum — it looks like Team Romney has decided to engage more with conservative outlets. That’s a smart plan, although one that should have started weeks ago, if not even further back.
A tough primary should produce a better nominee, one who has been strengthened by the experience and whose platform responds to pressure from voters to correspond to their positions. If Romney ends up winning the nomination and Gingrich pushes him to be more bold and more transformative, then Gingrich will have played a positive role for which conservatives should thank him later — assuming, of course, that Kudlow’s description of the plan is accurate.