The Newt Un-Campaign, Cont'd

The Newt Un-Campaign, Cont'd

The Newt Un-Campaign, Cont'd

Weigel
Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Dec. 31 2011 3:25 PM

The Newt Un-Campaign, Cont'd

ATLANTIC, Iowa -- A few more observations on the Gingrichian style of Iowa campaigning, from here at a Coke bottling facility.

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- Gingrich's stump speech ranges from 19 to 25 minutes. There is no script. There's a litany of brain-enhancing policy lectures. As he closes, he either enumerates "two quick things" or "three quick things." The last "thing," perennially, is his promise to challenge President Obama to seven three hour debates "in the Lincoln-Douglas tradition, with a timekeeper but no moderator." This allows him to end with a zinger, when he "concedes" or "allows" Obama to use a teleprompter. I've never seen less than full-on, crowd-wide chuckles at that line.

- The only candidate Gingrich attacks by name, without prompting, is Ron Paul. "One area where I disagree fundamentally with Ron Paul," he says in Atlantic, "[is that] I do not believe you can be comfortable with Iran." Earlier, in Council Bluffs, he mentioned his criticism of Paul as an example of "give 'em hell" statements that were not negative, just true.

- He sticks around. There was some "hah, hah, look at the implosion" coverage of Gingrich after his tour's ambitions were scaled back, to three or four events a day. Gingrich uses most of the time to allow voters to meet him. He specifically reminds them, at the end of appearances, that they can get signatures or pictures with him or Callista.

- The 80s figure high up in the Gingrich stump. "Callista and I were at the Ronald Reagan Library on Reagan's 100 birthday," he says, "and we had lunch with former Secretary of State George Schultz." The eventual point he's making is about energy. "Some of you are able to remember: In 1984, we signed into law something called 'gasohol.'"

David Weigel is a reporter for the Washington Post.