Robert Novak, writing just after Obama defeated John McCain and Democrats solidified their hold on Congress, predicted that Republicans would turn to Newt Gingrich to lead them back to presidential power in 2012, Newt in 2012? (via @jmartpolitico):
In serious conversations among Republicans since their election debacle Tuesday, what name is mentioned most often as the Moses, or Reagan, who could lead them out of the wilderness before 40 years?
To the consternation of many Republicans, it is none other than Newt Gingrich, the former speaker of the House.
Gingrich is far from a unanimous or even a consensus choice to run for president in 2012, but there is a strong feeling in Republican ranks that he is the only leader of their party who has shown the skill and energy to attempt a comeback quickly.
Even one of his strongest supporters for president in 2012 admits it is a “very
risky choice.” But Republicans are in a desperate mood after the fiasco of John
McCain’s seemingly safe candidacy.
Novak did not predict Newt necessarily would win the nomination, and pointed out some of the difficulties.
But Novak did predict that people would turn to Newt in 2012 for the energy and dynamism missing from the rest of the Republicans who were likely candidates as of 2008, which included Mitt Romney, who lost in the primaries to McCain.
Several old Republican hands feel that Gingrich in 2012 is no more outrageous than Ronald Reagan was in 1980.
A lot has changed since Novak wrote the column just days after the 2008 disaster.
The Tea Party movement rose up in 2009 and provided the energy which led to the 2010 success in Congressional races. Rather than recognize that energy, the “old Republican hands” pushed back against the Tea Party movement, seeking to placate and marginalize the movement.
As regards the 2012 presidential election, once again the old Republican hands prefer the seemingly safe candidate, and have forgotten the lesson they learned on November 4, 2008.