Mitt Romney’s campaign is in trouble. The trouble is not just the South Carolina vote count. Romney’s internal polling almost certainly also showed that he was behind in Florida, as public polling released today reflects.
More worrisome for Romney is a growing chorus of doubters within the Republican establishment and conservative media who are beginning to wonder out loud whether Romney is electable in the primaries or general election.
Mr. Inevitability has left the house.
So Romney is going on attack. The centerpiece will be Newt Gingrich’s consent to a single ethics violation (out of 84 charged) in the 1990s. The process was highly politicized by Democrats, including Nancy Pelosi. Newt ultimately was vindicated by the IRS on the issue, but you wouldn’t know it from Romney’s speech yesterday in Florida:
“Speaker Gingrich has also been a leader,” the former Massachusetts governor said. “He was a leader for four years as speaker of the House. And at the end of four years, it was proven that he was a failed leader and he had to resign in disgrace. I don’t know whether you knew that, he actually resigned after four years, in disgrace.
Romney continued: “He was investigated over an ethics panel and had to make a payment associated with that and then his fellow Republicans, 88 percent of his Republicans voted to reprimand Speaker Gingrich. He has not had a record of successful leadership.”
In 1999, Brent Bozell wrote a great column about how the media covered up Newt’s vindication, Newt Is Vindicated, But Nobody Knows It:
The judgment is in. After three and a half years of investigation, the IRS has cleared Newt Gingrich and his allied nonprofit groups of any violation of the tax laws in the controversy over his television history course “Renewing American Civilization.”
So after having run countless news reports highlighting the accusations that ultimately forced Gingrich to pay a $300,000 fine, did the media correct the record with a decent airing of the decision? Are you ready? ABC, CBS, and NBC devoted exactly zero seconds to Newt Gingrich’s vindication. Only CNN’s Brooks Jackson filed a decent TV report, on the early-evening show “Inside Politics.” …
Gingrich issued a statement that clearly expressed his feelings: “I consider this a full and complete vindication. I urge my colleagues to go back and read their statements and watch how they said them, with no facts, based on nothing more than a desire to politically destroy a colleague.”
But the damage hadn’t been done simply by devious politicians like Bonior, but by journalists. In the face of Newt’s innocence, some reporters couldn’t muster even a regret.
Bozell followed up that column last month, noting that the media continues to hide Newt’s vindication.
It has been 4,689 days since the IRS formally cleared Newt Gingrich of any violation of tax law. It’s been 4,689 days since ABC, CBS, and NBC have had the opportunity to report it. What the heck. Why not today? Now is the time for these networks to report the truth for once. The networks owe it to the American people to report the fact that in 1999 the IRS completely vindicated Gingrich.
Between December 15, 1996 and January 31, 1997 the network morning and evening newscasts filed a staggering 244 stories. Total number of network stories on the news that Newt was completely innocent? Zero. That’s beyond pathetic. Oh and what about CNN? We found that the cable network filed one — count ’em, one — story. They’re probably exhausted by all that effort, so we’ll let them off the hook.
Now you can add to the list the Romney campaign, which uses the worst of Nancy Pelosi’s machinations to its advantage, and like the mainstream media, hides the truth.
Romney likes to criticize Newt for shooting a harmless but ill-advised commercial while sitting on a couch with Pelosi. What Romney is doing is far worse. He is embracing the worst of Peolosi’s smear tactics and mainstream media connivance.
Update: Thanks to Shortwave8669 in the Tip Line for the video link: