For months, former GOP House Speaker and 2012 presidential candidate, Newt Gingrich has been quietly advising Donald Trump as the New York billionaire solidified his Republican front-runner status following a series of resounding primary victories. Apparently consistent among these “discussions” between the two men has been Gingrich’s repeated desire to see the Trump campaign take on a “tough but inclusive” tone that gets away from the Twitter spats Trump has been known for since declaring his candidacy.
Then came the Trump retweet of an unflattering photo of Heidi Cruz and Gingrich is said to have given Mr. Trump an ultimatum. Either Trump start to listen, or all the work he and Gingrich had done together to help pave the path for the GOP nomination would fall apart.
The last 48-hours would indicate Donald Trump was quick to listen, and thus a reminder of just how much he values the opinion of Newt Gingrich.
Gingrich knows well the power of the Establishment Republicans. He corralled them into a unified Congress during the Clinton-era, only to see them turn on him when his popularity and influence was deemed to great a threat.
Then came 2012 and the presidential campaign when Gingrich himself was a candidate for president. Once again, the donor class that controls so much of the primary outcome pulled away from Gingrich, who would have been a far more formidable challenger to Barack Obama, in favor of the soft-spined Mitt Romney.
It has been suggested Gingrich had watched Trump’s initial break-out into the Republican primary with great interest. He saw significant potential in Trump’s media experience, the brand name, the brash but often on-the-mark demeanor.
More important, Newt Gingrich saw in Trump a man who might actually be able to take on the entrenched powers in D.C. – and win. With Trump’s repeated offerings to his enemies of verbal blunders that are then easily used against the GOP front-runner, Gingrich fears that potential might never be realized.
After the Heidi Cruz re-tweet, and then the awkward response to a question regarding abortion that now has the media spinning it into yet another “war on women” meme, Gingrich is said to have told Mr. Trump the nomination would be taken from him, that he was losing the war against the Establishment, and it was Trump himself who was to blame. It’s not that Donald Trump has actually done anything wrong, it’s just that he has allowed over the last few weeks to be portrayed as a candidate who has done little, if anything, right.
Since that Gingrich-rebuke, Trump’s tone in Wisconsin has been far more conciliatory. He even admitted to New York media if he had it to do over again, he wouldn’t have re-tweeted the unflattering facial photo of Ted Cruz’s wife juxtaposed with that of a far more attractive Melania Trump.
For Wisconsin though, it might be too little too late.
And for Gingrich, and perhaps America, Trump might soon be yet another in a long line of “what ifs” as the Establishment powers march on undeterred, in control, and as always – deciding the outcome.
On Tuesday we will see if Mr. Trump still has enough support among voters to alter that outcome.
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