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Democrats Doubt Gingrich Has Chance at Presidency

Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call
Showcasing Democrats’ assurance that the party could handle the former Speaker as the GOP presidential nominee, one aide said: “If we can’t beat Newt Gingrich, I’ll become a pizza delivery man.”

The Romney campaign has pointed to the attacks from Democrats as a sign that they fear the former Massachusetts governor far more than Gingrich.

"Barack Obama might be a liberal, but he isn't an idiot," Romney campaign spokesman Ryan Williams said. "The president knows that he will trounce a highly paid lobbyist and disgraced Washington politician like Newt Gingrich if he were to become the Republican nominee. Barack Obama and his liberal allies are terrified of Gov. Romney's candidacy because they know he has the skills, the background and the private-sector experience needed to win in November and turn around our struggling economy."

Several Democratic operatives and aides privately acknowledged that they see Romney as the tougher opponent. They also want to see a long, divisive GOP primary that leaves the eventual victor weakened by internecine warfare.

They feel that has already happened, with Gingrich's attacks on Romney's record at the investment firm Bain Capital and the focus on Romney's tax returns sullying him in national polls with independent voters.

"A lot of work went into developing the machinery to run against Romney," one senior Democratic aide said. "With Gingrich, I think it's safe to say we won't have to work as hard."

A senior Democratic operative agreed.

"Should we wake up two weeks from now and it's clear that Newt Gingrich is not just a passing fad and he is the concrete frontrunner, it would not take long to shift attention and focus onto Newt and his foibles," the operative said.

But the Democratic aide predicted: "We'll be back here in a month, and Romney will be the nominee. I can't allow myself to fantasize about Gingrich winning. It's like the [Washington Nationals] winning the World Series. If we can't beat Newt Gingrich, I'll become a pizza delivery man."

Gingrich campaign spokesman R.C. Hammond dismissed the boast.

"Domino's is a great company," Hammond quipped.

In the meantime, Democrats want Gingrich to win a few more primaries and extend the race.

"It is in our interest to get these guys to fight each other as long as possible," the Democratic operative said.

Democrats see the primaries — and the record number of debates — as causing the GOP contenders to lurch to the right and take positions they will come to regret on issues such as immigration.

And as Republicans beat up on each other, Obama is taking the opportunity this week to travel to crucial general election states such as Arizona, Nevada, Iowa, Michigan and Colorado to tout his State of the Union policy proposals.

Democratic group American Bridge 21st Century, which owns NewtGingrich.com, has also focused most of its attention on Romney of late, even sending users of that site to Gingrich's own campaign site criticizing Romney's "pious baloney." The site had for a month linked to sites embarrassing to Gingrich.

The group then tweeted that the site is still up for sale and that it would sell it to Romney for $374,000 — the amount Romney made from speaking fees in a year.

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