A top conservative media figure said the flood of attacks reflects a “Holy crap, it could happen” moment in the movement, as Republican leaders began to realize after Gingrich’s South Carolina victory that he could become the nominee, the global face and voice of their party and theology.
“It could happen, and it would be a disaster,” said the conservative, who spoke on condition of anonymity to protect private conversations. “All of us who were around and saw how he operated as speaker — there’s no one who’s not appalled by the prospect of what could happen. He thinks he embodies conservatism and if he wakes up one day and has a grandiose thought, he is going to expect all of us to fall in line behind him.
“There’s just so much risk on so many levels,” the official continued. “Everyone’s thinking, ‘It could really happen.’ He could win the presidency if there’s a way to win with 45 percent — a second recession or a third-party candidate. The immediate worry is him winning the nomination and losing the election, tanking candidates down-ballot. In a worst-case scenario, you could see unified Democratic governance, and we’d be back where we were in ’09 and ’10. It’s insane.”