Adam Graham
Letters to conservatives: a plea for reason
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By Adam Graham
January 23, 2012

Dear Fellow Conservatives,

There is a time when it is time to put aside what Speaker Gingrich's aide once called "tweets and trivia" and lay out our concerns in a rational way. I write this as a supporter of Senator Rick Santorum (R-Pa.), and it is the first in a series of letters to those who support Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) for the presidency of the United States, as well as those who are leaning towards this due to the belligerent tactics of some Gingrich supporters.

To begin with, Newt Gingrich finished fourth in the Iowa Caucuses after holding a lead in that state as late as mid-December. He then finished in fifth in New Hampshire. Polls showed Mitt Romney leading either him or Senator Rick Santorum — who won the Iowa Caucuses — in South Carolina. Mr. Gingrich could have withdrawn, based on the result so far in the name of uniting conservatives behind one candidate to challenge Mitt Romney. A week ago, evangelical leaders called on Gingrich to coalesce behind Santorum, and Gingrich did not. Instead, he ran a solid campaign, defied conventional political wisdom, and won the State of South Carolina.

While Gingrich supporters did not consider switching en masse to Santorum when faced with the possibility that a Romney win in South Carolina would assure Romney's nomination, those of us who support Senator Santorum are being told that we have no choice but to switch to Speaker Gingrich or risk the nomination of Mitt Romney.

Unfortunately, for Gingrich supporters, they may not have their cake and eat it too. Having defied and demolished conventional wisdom in South Carolina, a basic respect for fair play demands that we have a process in which to choose our nominee. As Gingrich supporters opted not to coalesce around Rick Santorum even at the risk of nominating Mitt Romney, it is hypocritical for them to attack Santorum supporters for doing what they did when our positions were reversed.

The position taken by Gingrich supporters shows utter disrespect for those of us who live in the other 47 states. Last I checked, this was the United States of America, not the United States of Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina. We have had three winners in three contests held so far. The rest of the states and the rest of this party deserve the right to be heard on which candidate we'd like to lead us. I maintain that this contest is far from over. It is wide open for any of those three winners to become our party's nominee. Santorum has several paths to victory which I will address in my next piece.

For now, let us examine the conduct of both the Gingrich campaign and its supporters. First, we have a post made by Eric Erickson on Red State in which he has posted rumors and gossip to suggest that Santorum is receiving campaign funds not to help out his campaign, but to "prop it up" in an effort to stop Gingrich, suggesting that Santorum is only in his race as a subterfuge to elect Mitt Romney.

This is a familiar narrative of campaigns that want to eliminate another campaign. They spread rumors that the candidate they desire to eliminate is only in the race to help another. I remember in 2000 that supporters of Steve Forbes were stating that Alan Keyes was only in the race to help George W. Bush to defeat Steve Forbes. One report even said that Bush and Keyes exchanged a kiss. Of course, Keyes remained in the race long after Forbes left, and arguably hurt Bush in the Michigan primary that was won by John McCain.

Similar rumors were spread that Mike Huckabee only remained in the race in an effort to stop Mitt Romney in 2008. Huckabee continued in the race a month after Romney left, and McCain complained about the fact recently. This unconfirmed gossip is a classic weapon of the political establishment.

Indeed, I'm forced to observe that many Gingrich supporters are acting like the people they decry. Along with the flip flops and general demeanor, what people find so unappealing about Mitt Romney is the idea that his campaign carried a degree of inevitability about it. Romney supporters were decried for demanding that the rest of the party fall in line.

How is this different from what Gingrich supporters have been doing since the South Carolina primary and even before it. I see no difference. Their tactics track with what conservatives have complained about with Romney and his supporters. When I've criticized Romney, I've been accused of helping to re-elect Barack Obama and advised to shut up. When I've criticized Gingrich, I've been accused of helping Mitt Romney and Barack Obama and told to shut up.

Has the old boss become the new boss? Or is the new boss really just a previous old boss? In his book Breach of Trust, Senator Tom Coburn (R-Ok.) writes how when a group of rebel freshman and sophomore legislators stood firm against Gingrich's decision to break the budget caps, Gingrich called a caucus meeting and singled out the rebels and demanded they explain why they were smarter than him. Such tactics fit with the overall demeanor of the Gingrich campaign. And while at other times, online supporters have called for opponents to get out of the race, this is the first time I can recall an actual candidate publicly suggesting another should leave the race.

In some ways, Gingrich supporters are acting far worse than their Romney counterparts. Jim Robinson of Free Republic has come out for Gingrich, and has gone to censoring the forum. I'm a long-time member of Free Republic (since 2000), and I found out how deep this censorship went when I posted a press release discussing the number of grandiose statements Gingrich had made. Many on the forum demanded that I be banned. Instead, the thread was deleted and I received an email from Robinson stating, "FR is all in with Newt. Hope you're not planning on trying to bring him down. Especially not here on FR." Translation: "Nice Free Republic membership you've got there, it'd be a shame if something happened to it. A shame." (And something will happen to it once this piece is publicized.)

Apparently, the Gingrich candidacy is so fragile that Free Republic must censor any post critical of Gingrich, lest the delicate Gingrich candidacy collapses upon itself. While Robinson has the right to do what he wills with his site, his decision to censor a site that is supposed to be for all conservatives shows the desperation to which support for Gingrich is driving people.

Gingrich wants the mantle of inevitability that was removed from Mitt Romney by the people of South Carolina. He wants conservatives to make a choice without thinking about it. The demand for this quick end to our process by a candidate who was destined to be roadkill on the highway of American politics less than a week before is utterly absurd.

Indeed, Gingrich owes some thanks for his victory to Sarah Palin, who said she'd vote for Gingrich just to see the race continue, but not necessarily as an endorsement of Gingrich. Governor Palin has offered her opinion that Santorum should remain in the race as well.

The supporters of Speaker Gingrich are inviting us to shut off our brains, to lay outside our debts, and cast our vote for him. There is no defense of Gingrich and his plans. There is no argument, there is a demand to assimilate or else.

I call for conservatives to think before voting. 60% of the people of South Carolina were not convinced — and an even greater proportion of the national population remains unconvinced — that Newt Gingrich is the right candidate to lead our country. I invite us to reject the bully politics of Gingrich's strongmen, and to look at where the candidates stand, to talk about where they will lead America, to lay out our reasons. In the course of the next few letters, I will lay out my case for supporting Senator Santorum and not voting for Speaker Gingrich.

And I promise not to delete comments that don't agree with me.

© Adam Graham

 

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Adam Graham

Adam Graham was Montana State Coordinator for the Alan Keyes campaign in 2000, and in 2004 was a candidate for the Republican nomination for the Idaho State House... (more)

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