Political Animal


March 08, 2012 8:53 AM ***Pride of the Southland

By Ed Kilgore

No question about it, if there ever was: Newt Gingrich is staking what’s left of his presidential candidacy on his appeal in the Deepest South. Having won only in SC and GA, he’s abandoing plans to campaign in Kansas and is concentrating every resource on winning primaries in the Super-South, Alabama and Mississippi, on March 13.

This is all richly ironic. An army brat born in Pennsylvania, Gingrich first moved to Georgia during high school. To this day, there is not a trace of a southern accent in his voice. During most of his congressional career, he represented a booming suburban Atlanta district that was getting less distinctively southern every day (I used to say it was not part of the South, but a collection of malls and subdivision where you could call the South toll-free, which was a lot funnier back when people paid long-distance phone rates). Indeed, in this week’s Georgia primary, metro Atlanta was far and away his weakest area.

Newt no longer lives in Georgia, but in northern Virginia, another place that is technically in the South, but is culturally a million miles away. His wife is from Wisconsin. Her main contribution to his life, both of them would agree, is his conversion to Roman Catholicism from his prior affiliation with the Southern Baptist Convention (where he was actually ordained a deacon, which is a pretty big deal).

There are reasons, albeit complicated, why a man like Gingrich has become the candidate with the greatest appeal to hard-core rural conservatives. But the whole situation is complicated, anyway, since his main competitor for this vote is another Roman Catholic from his native Keystone State, while the hated front-runner is a Mormon from Michigan and Massachusetts who has won the Catholic vote in all but one primary.

We’ll soon see if Gingrich survives March 13 with wins in the very Heart of Dixie, though his path forward may well be determined not by rural southern voters but by a Jewish guy in Las Vegas who owes much of his fortune to Asian casinos.

Like I said, it’s complicated.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.


  • martin on March 08, 2012 9:13 AM:

    He was here in Montgomery, Al last night. I caught a bit of him on the news. As they say around here, he looks like he was rode hard and put up wet. The soundbite they used was the tired,debunked line about not being able to put a gun rack in a Chevy Volt.

    If I didn't know what a vile creature he is, I'd feel sorry for him.

    Captcha adds, succession ildessi, which I think was the motto of the Confederacy for a few days;>

  • Ron Byers on March 08, 2012 9:16 AM:

    Newt Gingrich? Isn't his corpulent corpse one of the zombies chasing Romney? In fact isn't he the only reason Romney is still the front runner?

    My zombie reference is to the David Corn article linked below. See Ed we do read the stuff you link.

  • sick-n-effn-tired. on March 08, 2012 9:18 AM:

    I will not be the Republican candidate
    I will sell books
    I will increase my speaking fees
    I will explain to anyone who will listen that if they had chosen me Obama wouldn't have gotten a second term.
    I will appear daily on Faux Nooze and complain about Obama
    I will continue to appear almost weekly on Meet the Village with David (corporate slut ) Gregory because I'm an expert.

    This is why I run.

  • mass on March 08, 2012 9:20 AM:

    So, Newt was an ordained Baptist deacon when he was screwing around on his second wife with Catholic Callista?

  • berttheclock on March 08, 2012 9:24 AM:

    Ah, for the coming days of LaJolla Mitt talking about his surfing days off Del Mar.

  • berttheclock on March 08, 2012 9:29 AM:

    Southern tradition, mass, as Cain was very high in his church as well and loved to croon Gospel music. Ah, back to the days of Elmer Gantry bringing the Divine Love and never the Carnal atop the altar.

  • Jeff In Ohio on March 08, 2012 9:35 AM:

    "There are reasons, albeit complicated, why a man like Gingrich has become the candidate with the greatest appeal to hard-core rural conservatives. "

    Not complicated. He blows the race dog whistle loud and proud while mocking educated "elites." That's a sound easily heard, regardless of regional vocal inflections.

  • boatboy_srq on March 08, 2012 9:38 AM:

    @sick-n...: PRECISELY.

    @mass: ordained SOUTHERN Baptist deacon. Southern Baptists are a special breed: as long as they spout the hate loud enough, and as long as they never get CAUGHT, they seem to be able to do as they please. I lost track of the number of good SBC bigwigs I knew who were stepping out on their wives to spend the odd night with their boyfriends - or just a "play-date," and next day shouting the same ugly messages about sin and wrongful behavior.

  • AndThenThere'sThat on March 08, 2012 9:39 AM:

    To me, it sounds like he's making a last ditch effort to salvage this campaign season by running for Romney's VP. Mittster does well in urban areas, the Northeast and West. Newt now is trying to sell himself as the rural and Southern candidate to complete the puzzle.

    I don't think Romney will pick him and Romney certainly won't have any problems winning the South so long as there's an R after his name. Romney's problem right now is McCain's problem in '08. McCain solved his enthusiasm gap with a hockey mom from Alaska. As I type, Romney's team is no doubt searching high and low for a more sane and credible version of that.

  • stevio on March 08, 2012 9:47 AM:

    A vile a human as there ever was. Think of this clown in Germany circa 1939...

  • ComradeAnon on March 08, 2012 9:57 AM:

    It's not just rural conservatives Ed. I'm one of the few Liberals (funny, I think of myself as somewhat conservative) in Newt's old neck of the woods. I love it here but I could go on for hours about how Newt is loved around here. At first it was the typical anti-Obama politics. But now that Newt has all those millions propping him up, they think he is God's gift to the earth. I wonder if many realize he hasn't lived here in years. They've swallowed the Socialism thing completely. They are Fox-brainwashed. They eat this sh!t up, as we say here. But the bottom line is that Dixiecrats have supplanted racism for something that has a fiscal aspect to it. "Our tax dollars" is popular here. It's more protectionist. They've circled the wagons and are holed up. I think Newt's publicity stunt has just gotten pumped up by the money steroids. But a Dixiecrat is hard to keep down.

  • Diane Rodriguez on March 08, 2012 10:03 AM:

    Mitt will have to put his eggs in the running mate basket to generate any election excitement. The 2 (R) Governors from New Mexico and North Carolina are tailor made, female with ethnic heritage. They'll have to be distinguishable from Palin in temperament and intelligence if they are going to help the GOP ticket. I suspect that all that anti-women rhetoric from the frustrated old white boys will also have to go. Finally, not sure if Romney has enough smarts to analyze all the pros and cons, he may just take the easier route and choose another male.

  • bk on March 08, 2012 10:09 AM:

    Diane -- please don't insult NC by assigning South Carolina's Nikki Haley to us. We have a female governonr, but she's a Dem.

  • DAY on March 08, 2012 10:15 AM:

    sick-n-effn-tired echos what I have said in the past. Newt is on a BOOK TOUR!
    He has yet to spend a dime of his own money.
    "There's a sucker born every minute" is a phrase often erroneously credited to P. T. Barnum.
    Barnum also supposedly said, "you can fool all of the people some of the time."
    As an "historian", Newts knows it was Lincoln, -and thereby can favorably compare himself to the Great Emancipator. . ..

  • jcricket on March 08, 2012 10:50 AM:

    The only reason Newt is still around, is that the "Jew in Las Vegas" is a Romney man, and wants to split the Not-Mitt vote to give Mitt the only viable path to the R nomination - via a plurality of primary votes.

    Without Newt as Adelson's useful tool, the not-Mitt vote would be going to Santorum alone, who would then be ahead of Mitt.

    Is Newt smart enough to see that he is a useful tool? Of course he is. But he is asking the first question that any Republican always asks: What's in it for me? The answer to that is multiple choice, as the commenters above this have noted.

  • jim filyaw on March 08, 2012 10:58 AM:

    i despise newt, but the author's comment that his part of atlanta is no longer southern irritates me. neither is northern virginia? (lee's army is now officially an orphan). some say that florida beyond jacksonville is not. the ivy league wanna-be's in austin, texas will swear their part is not. same in chapel hill, n.c. ditto, missouri and oklahoma.

    so, somebody tell me. where exactly is the south, you know the place that keeps sending these troglodytes to congress? they don't all come from the backwoods of mississippi or alabama. it must exist somewhere.

  • Nick MacPlato on March 08, 2012 11:06 AM:

    Newt cares not about being Pres unless it's a gift. He and Darth Blondie have spent the last ten years traveling the country and the world collecting fools who respond to his sociopathic intellect with cash.

    The biggest fool of all being Sheldon Adelson who's hot button is Israel's security. As long as Sheldon can give Newt unlimited money without accountability, Newt will take it, filter it, wash it and siphon off 40% of into his and DarBlon's personal accounts.

    Does anyone reading really think Newt will get off of that gravy train any time soon . . . . .? .? . . I didn't think so.

    Newt's personal wealth has probably increased threefold in the last year . . . duh.

    Eat your heart out Herman Caine

  • MuddyLee on March 08, 2012 12:11 PM:

    Newt fought Bill Clinton in the 1990s - I think that's the key to his popularity in the South (of course Clinton is the real Southernor, but he had this "uppity" wife and various affairs...)

    If Romney picks Nikki Haley as his VP running mate, he might lose South Carolina. She is unpopular, and probably can't get re-elected. She is our version of Sarah Palin - doesn't have a clue about running the state government. There's even a Facebook page called Impeach Nikki Haley. Her opponent last time, Vincent Sheheen, would make a great governor or Senator - watch out Lindsay Graham, watch out Haley.

  • SecularAnimist on March 08, 2012 12:55 PM:

    Ed Kilgore wrote: "Like I said, itís complicated."

    Appealing to fear, hatred, ignorance and bigotry is not really that complicated.