Not Newt, Rick

The guy who apologized for criticizing Paul Ryan's Entitlement Reform Plan as right-wing social engineering is now heavily supporting Medicare in the Sunshine State, which is home for many seniors.

Voters across the country who wonder about Newt's questionable past have received replies from Newt and his supporters to look past those negatives since they have already been repented for, apologized for, or flipped on.  Focus should therefore be given only to his current conservative talk and the cherry-picked positive aspects of his past.

Teaming up with even one liberal in order to promote a single aspect of liberalism is usually reason enough for conservatives to dump and despise a candidate.  And Newt has palled around with, teamed up with, and praised the vile Al Sharpton as one who "did a lot of good things" despite Sharpton having organized riots which resulted in the deaths of at least a dozen innocent individuals.  And Newt's chummy behavior with a liberal like Al wasn't a one-time occurrence.  He's joined a whole lot of liberals, including Al Gore, Nancy Pelosi, John Kerry, and Arne Duncan.

Yet, contrary to the norm, Newt isn't despised for his love of liberals and their big-government ideas.  Instead, his action are waved away by his conservative supporters as either heroic attempts to work with the other party or some foolish act that's common among middle-aged men and deserving to be forgiven and forgotten.  After all, when dealing with a future president who wishes to subpoena judges who disagree with conservatism, what difference does the past make?

Newt Gingrich, we are told, has got the precise solutions to every problem and is the key to a better future.  Doesn't this sound like the guy currently occupying the White House?  We are also informed that Newt's brilliance and bold statements make him the only individual who can win this election despite the fact that many previous Newt gems have made him extremely unpopular and/or were contradictory to conservative values.  Can we afford to put up against Obama a candidate like Newt, who will shift the focus away from Obama with the controversial comments he is so prone to?  Besides, Newt's electability is quite questionable in light of the fact that general-election presidential debates don't allow audience participation.

Is this what Americans truly desire -- a president who lacks character and maturity?  Who will fly off the handle at the slightest inconvenience or provocation?  Do we want our future president to deal with foreign leaders, senators, and congressmen according to his temper?  Has anyone forgotten the embarrassing scene when Newt admitted to shutting down the government because Clinton forced him to sit at the back of Air Force One and exit from the rear on their flight to Israeli Prime Minister Yitzak Rabin's funeral?  Newt's demands of two other candidates -- including Rick Santorum, the victor of the Iowa caucus (!) -- to drop out and back him prior to his own victory in South Carolina reveal that the old Newt is still around.

Since conservatives are seeking a nominee who will take conservative action, Newt's support for a considerable amount of big-government legislation should raise serious questions as to whether he will actually walk the walk or revert to his previous positions once he receives the nomination.  Newt's representation of a strongly conservative district only adds doubt to his authenticity.  

Regarding his vote under Carter in support of the creation of a Department of Education, Newt can't say that he was merely following the will of the conservative voters in Georgia, whom he supposedly represented.  Nor can he throw back at the Georgians his vote as speaker for an additional 3.5 billion dollars for the Department of Education, which was the largest single increase that department has ever received.  Ditto for his Global Warming Prevention Act of 1989, co-sponsored with Nancy Pelosi, which declared that climate change is "a major threat to political stability, international security and economic prosperity."  Similarly, Newt's co-sponsoring the 1987 Pro-Fairness Doctrine was the result not of pressure from his constituents, but instead of his own big-government beliefs.

Even after he resigned, Newt spent hours persuading and cajoling fellow Republicans to vote for government-expansion bills.  He supported individual mandates as late as May of 2011, Bush's amnesty for illegals in '04, government intervention to control global warming, and TARP, to name a few.  In 2003, Newt demanded that "[e]very conservative member of Congress should vote" for Bush's prescription drug bill despite the fact that it added $17 trillion in unfunded liabilities.  Prior to the 2010 midterm elections, Newt melted the phones of conservatives to ensure that social issues wouldn't be discussed.

Although Mitt Romney supported a similar agenda as governor of liberal Massachusetts, Massachusetts has never elected a true conservative, and Romney was as far to the right they were willing to go.  Unlike the moderates in Massachusetts, the conservatives in the red district of GA-07 haven't sought a representative who supported global warming and the expansion of the federal government in both size and power.

So no matter how much Newt may attempt to portray himself as the only alternative to the moderate from Massachusetts, this just isn't the case.

There is another candidate whose record is far more conservative than the others despite having represented a purple-blue state.  He didn't flip-flop his positions to please voters or garner media attention; instead, he remained true to his family and ideals because of inner convictions.  He was and is a proud pro-lifer and a supporter of traditional marriage, lower taxes, and smaller government.  He actually listened to the voices of those who sent him to Washington prior to voting and didn't originally support amnesty for illegals or federal action to curb global warming, as Newt and Romney have.  And unlike Newt, this candidate actually supported some Tea Party conservatives over RINOs in the 2010 primaries.

This candidate is none other than Rick Santorum, who, as a newcomer to Congress, joined six others and fought corruption in both parties in what became known as the Gang of Seven while Newt -- the old-timer -- said nary a word.  Rick Santorum has never linked hands with the left to destroy conservatism or grow liberalism, as Newt has.  As a freshman in the Senate, it was Rick Santorum who led the fight for welfare reform and has been credited for its success, and it is Rick Santorum who continues to champion for entitlement reform.  On the flip-side, although Newt supported welfare reform in the House, he also led the successful fight against entitlement reform, and again, he expressed his ardent support of Medicare in Florida this past week.

Newt can best be characterized as the Rod Blagojevich of the Republican Party: a smooth talker wearing a righteous mask who loves attention and makes a lot of noise.  When removing his outer layer, though, one discovers a corrupted, immoral individual who has never met a liberal idea he hadn't tasted, liked, and then clothed in conservative clothing.

Three states have held primaries/caucuses so far, and three separate candidates won, so the race is still wide open.  Floridian voters, cast your ballots wisely.

Abie Rubin blogs at The Thinking Voter and can be followed on Twitter.

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