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Defying the Odds

Defying the Odds
New book about the 2016 election.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Bad 1998 Memories of Newt

Why are so few Republican lawmakers supporting their former Speaker? At Human Events, Neil McCabe quotes a former House GOP leadership staffer who recalls how Gingrich botched the 1998 midterm. Even though Congress had not reached a budget agreement, Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott let senators go home for campaigning, and Gingrich did not object. Meanwhile, four House Republicans running for the Senate were suddenly at a disadvantage.
“The result was that while Newt kept those four congressmen in town with the rest of the House to vote on stupid resolutions and to name post offices, the Democrats they were running against were back in their states campaigning.”

The four were: Rep. John E. Ensign (R.-Nev.) who lost to Sen. Harry M. Reid (D.-Nev.) by 428 votes; Rep. Robert D. Inglis Sr., (R.-S.C.) who lost to Sen. Ernest F. Hollings (D.-S.C.) whose 47 percent held Hollings to his second lowest percentage in his six Senate elections; Rep. Mark W. Neumann (R.-Wis.), whose 48.40 percent was bested by the 50.55 percent Sen. Russell D. Feingold (D.-Wis.) garnered; and Rep. Linda Smith (R.-Wash.), who lost to Sen. Patricia L. Murray (D.-Wash.).
And Gingrich's style hurt on his own side of the Hill:
On the House side, Gingrich placed his home state ally Rep. John E. Linder (R.-Ga.) as the leader of the Republican Congressional Campaign Committee, he said. “He also sent over a tribe of his gurus from his office to work at the NRCC.”

This move gave Gingrich complete control, he said.

“Today, you can look at any race and there are five different bloggers, who can tell you exactly what is happening up-to-minute,” he said.

“Back then, you had to rely on what the leadership told you what was happening, so we lost five seats, there was complete shock—no one saw it coming at all.”

“What was even more galling to the members was the way Gingrich and Linder had everyone convinced we were headed for a 30-seat gain,” said the former staffer, who is not affiliated with a presidential campaign.

“It also didn’t help that the budget that passed was a disaster. It had no tax cut and Clinton got everything he wanted,” the former staffer said. “Limbaugh was killing us and calling the budget a sellout, so conservatives stayed home.”
The key to the budget disaster was Gingrich’s leadership style, he said.

“Because Lott was just going to go along with whatever, it came down to the White House and the House,” he said.

“Gingrich’s ego was so huge, he insisted on conducting the negotiations himself,” he said. “There would be four staffers from the White House on one side of the table and then Newt.”