I haven’t asked Van Hollen or current DCCC Chairman Steve Israel (N.Y.) whether they think these Democratic “retreads” could win in 2012. I know the answer I’d get.
But for sheer gall, former Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) probably takes the cake. No, I’m not talking about the presidential candidate’s characterization of Wisconsin GOP Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget proposal, which already has received plenty of attention, or about his Tiffany credit card account.
Appearing on Fox News’ “Hannity” program shortly after he announced his presidential bid last week, Gingrich blasted Obama’s campaign for trying to raise $1 billion.
“He can’t afford to run in a fair election,” Gingrich said.
When even Hannity seemed a little confused by the statement, Gingrich added, “If he was on an equal playing field, he would lose.”
A “fair election?” The former Speaker apparently believes that “fairness” requires candidates to have the same resources. Did he promote that idea when he was in the House leadership? Did he abide by that view himself?
In 1994, Gingrich easily dispatched challenger Ben Jones (D), a former Member of Congress, outspending the Democrat $1.8 million to $321,000. Two years later, Gingrich outspent wealthy challenger Michael Coles $5.5 million to $3.3 million.
Even more to the point, Gingrich’s 1992 primary opponent, former state Rep. Herman Clark (R), challenged Gingrich to limit his spending to $750,000, an offer that Gingrich never accepted. Gingrich ended up spending $1.1 million to Clark’s $150,000 — and winning renomination 51 percent to 49 percent.
Apparently Gingrich didn’t see those elections, when the playing field wasn’t close to equal, as “unfair.”
But take a step back and consider the utter absurdity of a conservative Republican who generally supports the idea of the free market and bridles at liberals who equate equality with fairness talking about the “unfairness” of the president trying to raise $1 billion for his re-election.
It’s mind-boggling. If Gingrich deems an election as “unfair” because one candidate has more money than the other, just imagine what he must think about a country where some have much more money than others.