U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, says Newt Gingrich’s
rising fortunes in Republican presidential primary
and caucus polling is lifting hopes in the White
House as well.
“What I’m picking up around here is that there’s
a lot of silent cheering in the Obama Administration
and Obama campaign for Newt to get the nomination,”
Harkin said. “They think this would just be
Heaven-sent if he actually got the nomination.”
In a conference call with Cityview and other
media, Harkin addressed several questions on
the GOP presidential nominating battle, which
increasingly appears to be shaping up as a two-person
contest between Gingrich, a former speaker of
the U.S. House from Georgia, and former Massachusetts
Gov. Mitt Romney.
A Newsmax-Insider Advantage poll of GOP Iowa
voters conducted on Nov. 28 showed Gingrich
in the lead with 28 percent, U.S. Rep. Ron Paul,
R-Texas, at 13 percent, and Romney in third
place at 12 percent.
In New Hampshire, Romney leads Gingrich 31 to
27 percent, according to Newsmax-Insider Advantage.
For his part, Harkin, who was elected to the
U.S. House in 1974, worked with Gingrich, who
was elected in 1978 to Congress.
“I can remember him being a bomb-thrower at
that time, one of those people always lobbing
things around,” Harkin said. “I thought at that
time in his early career he was irresponsible.”
Harkin said he got to know Gingrich somewhat
and described him as an “intriguing individual.”
“But I perhaps have never met a more undisciplined
person in politics in my life,” Harkin said.
“If you are going to run for president, you
have to have discipline. Believe me, I speak
from experience on that one.”
Harkin, who unsuccessfully sought the Democratic
presidential nomination in 1992, said Gingrich
has a record of shooting from the hip with political
“Newt has never been one to engage mind before
opening mouth,” Harkin said. “He engages mouth
before engaging his mind most of the time. That
doesn’t bode well for him at all.”
While not getting into specifics, Harkin said
Gingrich would bring tremendous baggage to the
2012 general election for the White House.
“Someone once described the prospect of Newt
getting the nomination as ‘imagine that you’re
standing in front of a door and behind that
door are all these suitcases piled up and you
open the door and all the suitcases come tumbling
out,’ ” Harkin said, adding that the metaphor
perfectly fit Gingrich’s “baggage” problem.
Gingrich has been married three times and has
admitted infidelity. Questions also have been
raised about Gingrich’s paid, post-Congress
advocacy for Freddie Mac and clients who had
interests in seeing a greater use of electronic
health records. What’s more, the Georgian has
a decades-long trail of often-provocative public
comments and writings.
On the other hand, Harkin said, Romney is running
a cautious, plodding campaign, which can work
in a general election but is perhaps not a winning
strategy in a hotly contested caucus-and-primary
battle in which conservative activists hold
“Romney seems to be running sort of a general
election campaign in a primary season,” Harkin
said. “We’ll see if that works for him or not.”
Douglas Burns is a fourth-generation Iowa newspaperman
who writes for The Carroll Daily Times Herald
and offers columns for Cityview.
U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, said Newt Gingrich
would bring tremendous baggage to the 2012 general
election for the White House.
Douglas Burns is a fourth-generation Iowa
newspaperman who writes for The Carroll Daily
Times Herald and offers columns for Cityview.