It came from former Tennessee Senator Fred Thompson [see the video of the endorsement and a transcript of it below this post].
Thompson’s endorsement may not actually make many Republicans turn around and say that Thompson’s support of Gingrich finally gives them a reason to support Newt over Romney and Santorum, but what it does do is provide many conservatives with enough cause to seriously consider jumping on the Gingrich bandwagon that is now commonly referred to as “Newtmentum”.
Despite his failure to show up for owen presidential campaign in 2008, Fred Thompson is considered a true voice of commonsense conservatism. The actor turned politician in the late 90’s, has been a consistent advocate of anti-establishment leadership and conservative fiscal and social values. Part of his draw was his commanding ability to articulate conservative solutions with a dose of down-to-earth, folksy common sense that cut through the bureaucratic jargon that overwhelms the Beltway and attempts to complicate the issues with distractions and distortions.
It is that style and ability which was responsible for initially unleashing the greatets amount of spontaneous enthusiasm for any single Republican presidential candidate in 2008, when Thompson made a late Summer entry in to the contest. But conservatives lost their enthusiam for Thommpson just as quickly as they became enthused by him, after he ran what, to put it nicely, was a lethargic campaign that had few campaign events, little money, and a candidate who was less energized than his supporters. Some have suggested that Thompson’s entry in to the race was merely a political stratgey meant to take enough support away from Mike Huckabee and Mitt Romney, to allow John McCain to squeak by and win the nomination. Having been there myself, I tend to believe that.
While that is quite disappointing if true, it still does not take away from the favorable opinion that many have of Fred Thompson, myself includeded. In fact, I dare say that if Thompson had wanted the nomination in 2012 and actually wanted to run a real campaign for it, he would be the frontrunner today. Which is why his endorsement of Newt Gingrich matters. Especially now.
As Floridians prepare to nomiante their choice for President, Thompson’s endorsement carries more weight than others do, perhaps even more so than Jeb Bush. While Jeb is certainly popular in Florida and would have a very substantial conservative candidate in his own right if he ran for the nomination, he is still largely perceived as a part of the establishment. Fred Thompson is not. And it is the anti-establishment vote which is largely driving the momentum behind Newt Gingrich.
The anti-establishment vote drove the historic Republican takeover of the House in 2012 midterm elections, and while some on the left try to deny that anti-establishment sentiment represented by the TEA movement is still alive and well, it continues to have a significant effect on politics. Ask Romney, and off the record, he will confirm that. On the record of course, he will tell you that his support from the TEA Party is strong, Unfortunately for him though, South Carolina proved that not to be true. Based on the exit polls in that race, you can rest assured that Romney would not bet $10,000 on whether the TEA Party supports him over candidates.
What Fred Thompson’s endorsement of Gingrich does is make it more difficult for Romney to gain the support of anti-establishment Republicans. While it may not be the determining factor that makes Floridians flock to Gingrich, it adds to the positive psychological atmosphere that is growing around Newt Gingrich and reinforces the Newtmentum that according to the latest polls, is building.
For that reason, Fred Thompson’s endorsement of Gingrich is quite valuable.
And the way the endorsement was delivered happens to have been odne extraordinariliy well. It was based on more than just platitudes. In his 5 minute pro-Newt testimonial, Fred Thompson articulates an extraordinarily deep rationale for supporting Newt.
At one point in the endorsement video, Thompson even strikes upon the chord that is critical to what differentiates Gingrich from all the other candidates and is one of the key elememts to his succes. Thompson states;
“We don’t need to just manage the way Washington works. We need to fundamentally change Washington. It would be a major setback for our party and our country if we elect a president who is not up to that challenge. We need someone who has the courage and ability to communicate the truth to the American people.”
Those words sum of the very sentiments that tens of millions of Americans have when it comes to politics and our government. They articulate the thinking of a vast majority of Americans who are disatsfied by, and disgruntled with the status quo and seeking not fundamental change in American values, but fundamental change in an American government that seeks to enforce its bureaucratic values on Americans.
What Thompson’s words do is help to shape the debate and articulate the rational for supporting Newt Gingrich and while Newt may not have the money it takes to turn Thompson’s video endorsement in to a 5 minute ad that runs across the conservative rich Northern and Western section of Florida, he can take Thompson’s words and target these regions with the Thompson’s message. And if Thompson is willing to put a little more energy in to it that he did for his own 2008 presidential campaign, hitting the campaign trail with and for Newt in the Sunshine will also help open up minds to the thought of supporting Newt while helping to add to Newt’s existing momentum.
Transcript of Thompson’s Endorsement;
I am one of the countless number of Americans who know firsthand that, in this country, a person may be born into modest circumstances, but that he comes into the world blessed in ways that have been unimaginable to the vast majority of people who have ever lived. We are born with the birthright of freedom and opportunity – free to make our own choices about the important things in life and the opportunity to fulfill our God-given potential.
The greatest fear that I have for my country is that our government now has us on a different path. Instead of freedom and opportunity, it is one of debt, dependence division and decline – a path that will weaken our country and sap the vitality of the American people. We have moved from an era of balanced budgets, to a time of debt as large as our entire economy and of lost credit ratings. In 2001, when I was chairman of the Senate Government Affairs Committee, I released a report “Government On the Brink,” in which I laid out the extent to which our government was bloated, growing, wasteful, subject to massive fraud, and basically out of control.
A decade later, it is worse. Today, federal bureaucrats think they can tell a family where they can build their home and a business where it can locate. I believe that how one views the condition and trajectory of our country determines how one views the strengths of our presidential candidates. For me, I believe that we are at a tipping point, one from which we may not return. To avoid these disastrous consequences, our country needs leadership that is fearless and confident – a candidate who can give voice to the concerns and frustrations of the American people …someone who understands – and will never apologize for American Exceptionalism.
We don’t need to just manage the way Washington works. We need to fundamentally change Washington. It would be a major setback for our party and our country if we elect a president who is not up to that challenge. We need someone who has the courage and ability to communicate the truth to the American people. Someone who will explain the hard choices that we must make if we are to give our children and grandchildren the same opportunities our forefathers bestowed on us and avoid the fate that other great nations have suffered throughout history. I believe that person is Newt Gingrich. And that is why I strongly support him. I came to Washington in 1995, in part as a result of the political revolution that Newt conceived and led. Over the next few years we were able to balance the budget, pass welfare reform, and begin to rebuild a weakened military. So we know it can be done.
Unfortunately, some on our side lost their way, became divided, and fell into recriminations and finger pointing. Sometimes, success is a difficult thing to handle. I believe that most of us have learned from our mistakes and are now focused on the future and the dangers and opportunities that lie ahead for our country. President Obama’s strategy is simple…avoid the hard realities his failed policies have created over the past three years, divide the country, pander to and organize his various constituencies, and eek out another victory. I believe he fails to see what so much of the political establishment and the Washington insiders on both sides of the aisle fail to see – that these past few years have changed our people and our country.
People in America don’t want to be told what to do, and they certainly can’t be told what to think. They see for themselves what is happening in Europe with Greece, Spain and the lot, do not want it happening on our shores and are spontaneously organizing in towns all across America. They realize that on our present course we may not recognize our country in a few years. They are waiting to be inspired and energized to a cause that will conserve those first principles that made us the envy of the world. This cause cannot be led by glossy flip charts, processing data, or reams of talking points poll-tested by a roomful of consultants.
It must be led by someone who can forcefully make our basic case for the economy … for example … how lower taxes benefit all Americans, and can raise revenue for the legitimate and limited functions of the federal government. Someone who is able to articulate the message of growth, free enterprise and freedom. Someone who knows that bold ideas have preceded every major achievement of mankind – including the United States of America. I believe that Newt Gingrich is that person.
Please join me and Newt in this effort to renew America’s Exceptionalism. Go to Newt.org and show your support.
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