As the battle for Iowa concludes in a few short weeks, we see our republican presidential hopefuls take lessons from Rocky. All are in overdrive, wanting to be the first to take their winning message to all primary voters and win the nomination. We have seen polls and debates. We have heard all commentary from every political pundit. As the primaries approach, none of the aforementioned will supercede the voice of the voter.
The road to the nomination will be bumpy without the tea party seal of approval. As each front-runner has been subjected to the tea party litmus test (and failed), we find our new front-runner, Newt Gingrich, must now measure up to the standards of the hardcore conservatives. Openly, we know he is the smartest guy in the room. His knowledge of history and policy are his strengths. His experience as House Speaker also is appealing. He has Southern ties. In fact, Gingrich and Cain are both from Georgia. Being from the South allows the true base of the party to feel as if they are truly electing an individual representing their ideals, principles and values.
Make no mistake, Gingrich is not a tea party republican. Detrimental or not, Gingrich has liberal connections that would make a tea partier think their drink had been spiked with bourbon. The dirty laundry has been aired from marital dramas. Plenty of time has passed allowing one to reconcile his “morality” with regard to family values. What one may find disconcerting is his peculiar relationship with Rev Al Sharpton. The civil rights leader and media personality also known for his attack bigoted attack against Mitt Romney’s faith and being caught on FBI surveillance facilitating a drug deal on behalf of Don King, decided to support and promote an education initiative by Barack Obama and the Education Secretary Arne Duncan. The irony would be that Rev. Sharpton only has two years of post high school education. Credibility to the initiative was brought by New Gingrich. Yes, THE Newt Gingrich. Current republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich. In 2009 , these three seemingly unlikely amigos toured the country to promote Obama’s desired education innovation for public schools. Here, Gingrich and Sharpton discuss Race to the Top.
Fast forward to May of 2011, Gingrich adamantly tells Georgia republicans Obama is “the food stamp President.” He states he has the full intention of being a “jobs” President. He reminds us daily of Obama’s short-comings. One of his Sharpest criticisms has been public and post-secondary education. Will this ring as authentic to the hardcore tea partier?
During the National Security debate last Tuesday, Gingrich was highly criticized for his “humane” discussion on illegal immigration. Gingrich stated: “If you’ve come here recently, you have no ties to this country, you ought to go home. Period. If you’ve been here 25 years and you got three kids and two grandkids, you’ve been paying taxes and obeying the law, you belong to a local church, I don’t think we’re going to separate you from your family, uproot you forcefully and kick you out.” He suggests a third solution. One that allows illegal immigrants that fall into this category not avoid deportation but not have a path to citizenship or right to vote. Some conservatives call this amnesty. Some liberals call this 21st century apartheid.
It is clear that Gingrich has the ability to reach across party lines and negotiate. This is an attribute quite desirable during a general election. However, core constituents do not want to question if their fundamental values will be abandoned or “sold-out” once their candidate begins occupying the Oval Office. Gingrich seems somewhat enigmatic. He is polarizing because he is free-thinking. In a general election, these would be seen as moderate ideals. Yet, this trait may label him too liberal. As the race continues, tea partiers will continue to ask themselves if he is authentic enough to win their vote.