Why has Gingrich’s ploy backfired so badly? The attacks have undermined the main message of his campaign: that he is the principled conservative in the race, while Romney is a flip-flopper who will say anything to get elected. In parroting Barack Obama’s class-warfare rhetoric, Gingrich has managed to turn himself into the candidate who abandons his conservative principles to get elected — while Romney is now positioned as the principled defender of free-market capitalism. That is quite an achievement on Gingrich’s part.
Gingrich does not seem to understand what he did wrong. When a voter in Spartanburg, S.C., implored him to “lay off the corporatist versus the free market” rhetoric, Gingrich said “I agree with you” — but then explained that it was not because attacking Romney’s Bain record was wrong but because “It’s an impossible theme to talk about with Obama in the background. Obama just makes it impossible to talk rationally in that area because he is so deeply into class warfare that automatically you get an echo effect.” Translation: Obama has ruined class warfare for the rest of us.