Thursday, December 08, 2011

Is 2012 truly going to be a different sort of nomination fight?

We're going to see a test of the theory that 2012 will be a different election from previous nomination fights and that organization will matter much less than the celebrity and support earned from all the debates. Newt Gingrich has little organization on the ground in any of the early states. Mitt Romney has organization in states throughout the nation. The Romney campaign recognizes that the new proportional rules make this a different sort of election from earlier elections in that it will take longer for a winner to be declared.

Gingrich is scrambling to just get his name on the ballot in some states. He missed the deadline for Missouri and now he needs to qualify in other states. Perhaps all the enthusiasm that he's generated in the past few weeks will simplify his task, but it's not a good sign that he is failing at this simple test of executive ability in running a campaign.

It's not encouraging to learn of how Gingrich piled up big debts just this year in running his campaign. He was blowing money on expensive private jets and other expenses and still hasn't paid back those creditors. And one of his biggest creditors is Newt Gingrich himself.
One of the campaign’s biggest creditors is Gingrich himself, who billed his campaign more than $125,000 for a mailing list and travel expenses, about half of which remained unpaid at the end of last quarter.

Hammond said about $42,000 of the debt owed to Gingrich in the second quarter was for the cost of the candidate’s personal mailing list, which he sold to the campaign. Hammond said Gingrich was paid for the list in the third quarter. The payment does not appear to be disclosed as required on Federal Election Commission reports, something Hammond said might have been an oversight.

The payment suggests that Gingrich was reimbursed ahead of other creditors for a list that he could have given to the campaign as an in-kind contribution.
Ah, is that really the type of leadership and executive ability that we're looking for? Someone who still is trying to make money off of his own campaign and paying himself before he pays other businesses to whom he owes money?

Karl Rove, who, whatever you may think of him, knows about running a winning campaign in the old-style politics where organization and money are important requirements for securing the nomination, thinks that Gingrich's lack of organization in Iowa may lead him to under-perform his expectations in Iowa.

Last election Republicans ridiculed Barack Obama's claim that he had executive ability because he'd run a successful presidential campaign. We've seen how ridiculous that claim was. But that doesn't mean that the converse is true - that someone who can't lead a good campaign organization will be a good Chief Executive. And with all the stories we've heard about Newt's tantrums and lack of organization as Speaker of the House don't give us any confidence that he's truly a man suited to be leading the country.