The GOP race for the Oval Office is continually plunging into ambiguity as the Republican National Convention (RNC) approaches. Currently, the GOP is in the midst of dealing with Herman Cain’s recent withdrawal, as well as a growing Occupy movement sweeping the nation. However, among these circumstances, a new leader emerged. Newt Gingrich, former speaker of the house and outspoken political pundit, has been surging in the polls in recent times, surpassing fellow campaigners Ron Paul and Mitt Romney, according to an ORC poll.
The recent catastrophe in his campaign has thrown Cain out of the top-tier GOP favorites, consequently thrusting Gingrich into the political spotlight. According to Public Policy Polling, a national Internet polling website, 38 percent of Cain supporters say they would support Gingrich if Cain was no longer considered a viable option, which became true this past weekend.
Gingrich was elected into Congress in 1978 after two failed attempts in 1974 and 1976 against Democrat John Flynt. He was reelected six times as Georgia’s 6th district representative, became house minority whip in 1989, and subsequently achieved the position of speaker of the house in 1995. During his tenure as speaker of the house, Gingrich oversaw a government shutdown and obtained multiple ethics sanctions concerning intentional tax evasion. However, he contributed to the 1997 balanced budget and placed political pressure on President Bill Clinton to balance the budget again in 1999, three years ahead of schedule.
Gingrich’s personal life is checkered, including two divorces, both a consequence of infidelity. In reference to his first wife, he allegedly stated, “She’s not young enough or pretty enough to be the wife of the president. And besides, she has cancer,” according to L.H. Carter, former campaign treasurer.
Gingrich announced his bid for the Oval Office in May of 2011, shortly after two of his senior aides left the campaign. Despite the summer’s setbacks, Gingrich held steadfast to his campaign, eventually achieving the limelight from Republican voters in recent weeks. In an Economist/YouGov poll, Gingrich is shown holding a 7 percent lead over fellow campaigner Mitt Romney. A CNN/ORC poll indicates Newt holding only a 4 percent lead over Romney. Another poll indicates Gingrich leading by a domineering 24 percent over Romney among Floridians.
Gingrich is known for his steadfast conservative views and outspokenness, a trait which was detrimental to him in past elections. Recent political gaffes by Gingrich include a verbal attack on Paul Ryan’s budget plan. “I don’t think right-wing social engineering is any more desirable than left-wing social engineering,” Gingrich said, in reference to Ryan’s plan.
In recent times, Gingrich has encountered issues on the subject of immigration. He supports the current stance of the president, aiming to generate legislation to legalize immigrants who meet certain requirements. According to Michele Bachman, fellow campaigner, “He wants to legalize 11 million illegal aliens in the United States.”
Republican pundit Ron Bonjean considers Gingrich in a perfect political position; however, he acknowledges that it could be short lived if Newt continues to make politically unpopular statements. “He’s surging in the polls. The last thing he wants to do is get on the other side of Republican primary voters by getting into an intellectual debate,” Bonjean said.
Elizabethtown College students share strong opinions concerning Gingrich’s race for the White House. Opinion is diverse among the College community.
Courtney Weaver, a first-year math education major, stated, “I think the way he handled the government shutdown under Clinton was beneficial to the economy. However, I believe he will not become the next president because of his intense conservative ideals. He needs to learn how to be more compromising.”
Benjamin Prueitt, a first-year mathematics major, considered Gingrich to be underdeveloped in stance on the issues: “Gingrich is a goon. His stances on drug control are archaic at best.”
David Nagel, a first year business administration major stated, “In this economy with feuding liberals and conservatives, it’s not wise to have a stubborn, one-sided Republican who will not consider Democratic beliefs.”
Sophomore Jason Halberstadt, Etown College Republicans president, cited Gingrich as a potential nominee. “Many Republicans, myself included, like the idea of a Gingrich-Obama debate because Newt Gingrich is renowned for his intelligence and articulation. Personally, I would not be surprised if [Gingrich] became the nominee,” Halberstadt said.
Gingrich is expected to increase in popularity according to multiple polling sources; however, it is premature to confidently indicate that he will become the nominee. The Republican population will likely shift infatuations to other candidates in the coming months. With the Iowa Caucus quickly approaching, the GOP side of the race perpetually is heating up, especially with the eruption of Gingrich’s poll standings. Gingrich, although controversial, may succeed in the coming weeks, provided he stays away from intense right-wing ideology and does not recklessly attack fellow campaigners.