In the introduction of the hard cover edition of No Apology – A Case for American Greatness, by Mitt Romney, the author related this quote from his father, speaking of his own 1968 presidential campaign, that “it was like a miniskirt . . . short and revealing.” He went on to say that his own campaign, while longer than his father's was just as revealing.
I have found this current GOP primary to be pretty revealing too, and the most unpleasant thing I have discovered has been the character of Newt Gingrich. Everyone knew going into this race that Newt has baggage. That's the popular euphemism to describe Newt's marital infidelity, among other things.
During the early days of Newt's rise in the polls, a local talk show host in my market, said something along the lines that everybody already knows Newt's “baggage,” so vetting him won't be very damaging to him. If he is getting to be so popular with Newt's personal failings so well known, he should do quite well.
Prior to Newt's rise in the polls, I was close to choosing him as my 2nd choice after Romney himself. After all, he had done well in the debates, he had been consistently positive toward the other candidates, and he was smart.
Behavior in defeat, just as behavior in victory, is revealing of a person's character. Four years ago Mitt Romney was defeated. He stepped down before he had to. Some of his supporters, including myself, believed after Super Tuesday that he still had a chance. Remote, sure, but possible. Romney, however, preferred to get behind the presumptive nominee and campaigned for John McCain as hard or harder than anyone else.
Compare this to Newt Gingrich. Contrary to Newt's previous declaration, he is NOT going to be the nominee. After back-to-back fourth place finishes in Iowa and New Hampshire, a depleted war chest, a lack of organization across the country, failure to appear on the ballot in Missouri and Virginia, Newt has no possible path to victory. And what is his response? Attack Mitt Romney. And why? Because that meanie said mean things about him.
A couple of points. Now I don't live in Iowa, so I have only seen what has been shared via Facebook, political blogs and the news, but comparing the ads put out by Ron Paul's campaign, and the ads put out by Mitt Romney's Super PAC, I think Paul's ads were infinitely more damning. But Gingrich saved all of his vitriol and animosity for Mitt Romney.
Now you may say that Romney's class in bowing out in 2008, his tireless efforts on behalf of the McCain/Palin ticket, his work on behalf of numerous Congressional and local candidates in the 2010 election, were not a result of any altruism or generosity, but rather were self-interested, and all for the purpose of setting him up to run successfully in 2012. Even if that's true, what does that say of Romney's character? It says that he is patient. It says that he is willing to work, and work hard for what he has. It says that he is willing to personally sacrifice for the benefit of others. Those are good qualities.
Now what does Gingrich's behavior say about his character. It says he is short-sighted. It says he is willing to compromise the principles he has said he believes in for the purpose of damaging someone else. It tells me that he is childish, petty, vindictive, impatient and churlish. These are not qualities I want anywhere near the White House.