“they resent it when he attacks them for being to the left of positions he has very recently adopted”
As long time readers know, I really didn’t pay much attention to the 2008 Republican primaries.
But as I’ve gone back in researching various issues, I’ve noticed that a lot of candidates in 2008 had a reaction to the way Mitt Romney ran his campaign similar to the reaction Newt is having right now.
I linked this morning to a post by James Joyner, Everybody Hates Mitt, quoting a NY Times article and linking to many sources, relating the visceral reaction of Mike Huckabee, John McCain and others who were on the receiving end of Romney’s attack ads.
One of the links was to Ramesh Ponnuru, who recently wrote a scathing attack on Newt Gingrich as the leading edge of National Review dumping a load of bricks on Newt’s head.
Back in 2008 Ponnuru pondered why so many other candidates hated Romney with such intensity, and one of the points he made was very perceptive:
One, they resent it when he attacks them for being to the left of positions he has very recently adopted. I think that’s an understandable reaction.
I think that nails it, and explains so much of Newt’s anger. The attack ads were and are not just attack ads, they were and are attack ads by a recent convert to conservatism who spent most of his political career running away from conservatism questioning someone else’s conservatism.
Mitt Romney’s campaign made a lot of enemies in 2008, and it’s making them again. The difference is that Romney has the benefit this time that if he gets the nomination the horror of an Obama reelection will keep conservatives in line.
And it’s why the desperate search for an alternative goes on, because conservatives do not like being held hostage.