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At the risk of repeating myself, my response to the Romney campaign staffer who summed up the Florida primary by saying “It’s about destroying Gingrich,” is the same as my response to Sarah Palin’s claim that the “liberal media” and “the establishment” were out to destroy Newt Gingrich: Nobody needs to lift a finger to destroy Newt. All anyone has to do is stand back, give him room, and watch him do it himself.

In fact, Newt’s accomplishing his own destruction just by his dogged determination to stay in the race all the way to convention, and he’s threatening to take his party down with him.

First, there’s the obvious. The longer Newt stays in the race, the more opportunities he gives his opponents to not only attack him with a viciousness they usually reserve for Democrats, but to do so while telling nothing but the truth. And when it comes to Newt Gingrich the truth hurts.

Gingrich may take some comfort in NBC’s request that the Romney campaign pull this anti-Gingrich attack at that featured Tom Brokaw.

That one ran three times in one half hour. still leaves four Romney ads running in Florida, and none for Gingrich. That might have something to do with the Romney campaign’s assertion that Newt “doesn’t have the right to rewrite history.”

Or, it could that Newt can’t rewrite history because Romney’s attacks on his ethics violations are the opposite of “totally phony.”

“… fined $300,000 for ethics violations”

One Romney attack ad said that Gingrich was “fined $300,000 for ethics violations.” That’s because he was.

The House voted overwhelmingly yesterday to reprimand House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) and order him to pay an unprecedented $300,000 penalty, the first time in the House’s 208-year history it has disciplined a speaker for ethical wrongdoing.

The ethics case and its resolution leave Gingrich with little leeway for future personal controversies, House Republicans said. Exactly one month before yesterday’s vote, Gingrich admitted that he brought discredit to the House and broke its rules by failing to ensure that financing for two projects would not violate federal tax law and by giving the House ethics committee false information.

“Newt has done some things that have embarrassed House Republicans and embarrassed the House,” said Rep. Peter Hoekstra (R-Mich.). “If [the voters] see more of that, they will question our judgment.”

House Democrats are likely to continue to press other ethics charges against Gingrich and the Internal Revenue Service is looking into matters related to the case that came to an end yesterday.

The 395 to 28 vote closes a tumultuous chapter that began Sept. 7, 1994, when former representative Ben Jones (D-Ga.), then running against Gingrich, filed an ethics complaint against the then-GOP whip. The complaint took on greater significance when the Republicans took control of the House for the first time in four decades, propelling Gingrich into the speaker’s chair.

(Washington Post, Wednesday, January 22 1997)

Maybe Newt can’t rewrite history, because when Romney says Newt worked for Freddie Mac and profited from his “insider” status, it just happens to be true.

“…took $1.6 million from Freddie Mac”

The same Romney ad said that Gingrich took $1.6 million from Freddie Mac. That’s because he did.

Newt Gingrich made between $1.6 million and $1.8 million in consulting fees from two contracts with mortgage company Freddie Mac, according to two people familiar with the arrangement.

The total amount is significantly larger than the $300,000 payment from Freddie Mac that Gingrich was asked about during a Republican presidential debate on Nov. 9 sponsored by CNBC, and more than was disclosed in the middle of congressional investigations into the housing industry collapse.

Gingrichs business relationship with Freddie Mac spanned a period of eight years. When asked at the debate what he did to earn a $300,000 payment in 2006, the former speaker said he offered them advice on precisely what they didnt do, and warned the company that its lending practices were insane. Former Freddie Mac executives who worked with Gingrich dispute that account.

And I’m not going to get into the messy details of Newt’s personal life. Another Romney has done that already.

Mitt Romney’s oldest son, Tagg Romney, wrote on his Twitter feed Sunday afternoon: “This is my favorite video of the campaign so far.”

He added the hashtag #AnnRomney4FirstLady.

The link that Tagg provided sent users to a website independent of the Romney campaign, titled It was a video called “Judge a Man by the Woman.”

It features photos of Mitt and Ann Romney set to music.

But in the text of the website, under the headline, “You Can Judge Mitt By His Woman — Ann Romney,” there is a paragraph of text at which Tagg Romney may not have looked closely enough. The text is largely harmless until the last line, when it makes an obvious comparison of Ann Romney to Callista Gingrich, Newt Gingrich’s third wife after extramarital affairs broke up his first two marriages.

“Do we want, as our First Lady, a woman who raised five wonderful and successful sons, is grandmother to 16 beautiful grand kids, and has always been a paragon of virtue? Or do we want ‘the other woman?'” the site reads.

The site is run by Mike Sage, of Wichita Falls, Texas, who lists himself on his Facebook page as an “author, editor, publisher, graphics designer, marketing consultant, broadcaster, conservative political activist, stock market trader, and a big Mitt Romney fan.”

Oh, I think someone’s giving the Romney’s a bit too much of the benefit of the doubt. Whether anybody on the Romney campaign read that paragraph closely or not, I’m willing to bet the Romney campaign is betting that a lot of Florida’s Republican primary voters will read it, or will get the point even if they don’t read it.

LUTZ, Fla. — Newt and Callista Gingrich walked into the massive Idlewild Baptist Church here Sunday morning and sat in the third row of pews to hear a sermon that touched at points on themes central to Gingrich’s biography: personal mistakes, betrayal of one’s closest relations, and a search for forgiveness.

“There are some of you in this room, I would venture to guess, who have ripped apart families,” said the preacher, Russell Moore, the dean of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

Moore’s message — focused on the sanctity of human life — was one of forgiveness and the grace of God.

Gingrich, the former House speaker from Georgia, has said he has gone to God over his two adulterous relationships and three marriages.

Moore’s sermon touched on the idea that in the midst of “gory, awful, gritty reality,” there can still be “beauty and redemption and hope.”

But it appeared Sunday that if Gingrich’s past held the seeds of a future of redemption, it was not political — at least not in Florida. A new telephone survey released Saturday night of 800 registered Florida voters, conducted by MasonDixon Polling & Research from Jan. 24 to 26, indicated that the impact of Gingrich’s past on his political fortunes was hurting him severely.

“Gingrich and Romney are essentially tied among men, but Romney has a 19-point lead over Gingrich among women. Gingrich’s cocky persona, combined with his three marriages and record of infidelity, help account for that gender gap,” the Tampa Bay Times wrote.

That 19-point gap is key to Gingrich’s flagging fortunes in Florida, where he has fallen behind Romney by an average of more than a dozen points, just in the matter of the last few days.

That explains why Newt’s own campaign practically runs in self-destruct mode. What makes the GOP establishment nervous isn’t Newt’s self-destruction, but the mutually assured destruction that remains a threat as long as Newt remains a candidate.


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