For the 2012 field of GOP hopefuls, this week was looking like a quiet week of advancing strategies and firing generic shots at the White House over the bad economy, with only some simmering internecine rivalries cropping up here and there to add some spice to the stew. But then, Thursday happened, and with it came news of the Newtiny!
Last week, Newt Gingrich did the smartest thing he's done yet since officially becoming a candidate and went on a vacation cruise to the Greek Isles. This move assured that he would stop saying things that his fellow Republicans would find to be stupid. Unfortunately, upon his return, he came face to face with a campaign staff who wanted Gingrich to take a serious approach to his candidacy. Whatever strategy they felt to be the soundest, Gingrich (and perhaps his wife Callista) disagreed. And so, his entire campaign staff said, "Smell you later," and peaced out to join other campaigns (perhaps a Rick Perry campaign!) or otherwise spend more time with anyone who wasn't Newt Gingrich.
Yes, this mass exodus included trusted campaign spokesman Rick Tyler, the man who penned that epic declamation on sheep-minions who sipped cocktails and lived in clouds of billowing tweets. It included just about everybody. Like Zell Miller, maybe! And definitely every single person who was working on Gingrich's Iowa campaign. Now Gingrich is going to "reboot" himself in California, like he was every single season of "Alias."
(Admit it, J.J. Abrams fans: That was pretty damned exhausting.)
The rest of week featured some tensions between rival camps, which could well be exploited in next week's New Hampshire debate. It will be Mitt Romney's first outing alongside his rivals, and this week, the various factions of the Stop Mitt Movement continued to assail Romney for his health care reform in Massachusetts, as well as his stance on global warming. A key thing to note: neither of these matters would have stirred anyone's anger in 2008. Back then, Romney's health care reform was seen as a way of co-opting the universal health care argument from the Democrats, and no one thought that badly of a Republican who thought global warming was real -- McCain, the eventual nominee, was at the time a pretty convincing speaker on the subject and was compellingly urgent in his suggestion that we, as a nation, could do something about it.
And, of course, the Bachmann and Palin camps fell out over comments that Bachmann's newly minted campaign consigliere Ed Rollins made, in which he deemed Bachmann to be a more "serious" candidate than Palin. Of course, she is a more serious candidate! She's the one that actually is a candidate!
Elsewhere, Tim Pawlenty rolled out some awfully gimmicky sounding economic plans; Bachmann discovered that she's not the only candidate who God likes; Rick Santorum burst onto the scene bragging about how he was more hardcore than Paul Ryan; Herman Cain had to decide how much attention span he could devote to signing bills into law; and you will never guess who Fred Karger has managed to out-fundraise. For all of this and more, please feel free to enter the Speculatron for the week of June 10, 2011.