Newt Gingrich needs to stop his parade of excuses for failing to qualify to get his name on Virginia’s GOP presidential ballot. “I think it’s more like Lucille Ball at the chocolate factory. You’ve got to get it organized,” quipped Romney about Gingrich’s Virginia fiasco. For once I agree with Mitt Romney. The “only failed system” is the Gingrich campaign’s incompetence, not Virginia’s law, which has been in place since 1970. As a person who has written favorably about Gingrich as being the most qualified candidate on the GOP presidential stump, I was shocked by the turn of events in Virginia and offer the candidate some constructive criticism.
If both Romney and Congressman Ron Paul could muster the minimum requirement of 10,000 signatures from 11 Congressional districts throughout the state of Virginia, clearly the task of getting on Virginia’s ballot can be met. It’s called following the rules! When you are running for president, excuses like the “dog ate my homework” frankly won’t do.
Moreover, what message does it send to your supporters and those weighing support for you that you would want to be President of the United States but can’t even pass the simple test of getting on a large state’s primary ballot? As Larry Sabato, of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia, said “It also sends a message to voters in Iowa and New Hampshire that his campaign isn't serious."
It wasn’t bad enough Gingrich totally blew it in Virginia, particularly since he leads Romney by 5% points among Republican voters, but his campaign made an awful PR move by casting blame at everything under the sun but the campaign’s lack of organization. First, Gingrich and his campaign manager Michael Krull blamed it on Virginia’s 1970 law calling it “a failed system” instead of taking responsibility for not scoring the goal.
Making Gingrich and his campaign look even more arrogant, like he was above the law and somehow exempt from following the states rules, Krull pledged it would organize an aggressive write in campaign without bothering to read Virginia’s election law which expressly prohibits write-ins during primary voting. Comparisons made by the campaign to this being its Pearl Harbor moment were also beyond ridiculous and unhelpful.
Christmas Eve, Gingrich made a move in the right direction, admitting it was “our fault” not qualifying for Virginia’s primary ballot. But this was undercut by his insistence the campaign would try to get Virginia’s legislature to change the election law to allow for write in votes. This is zany talk and makes the Gingrich campaign look silly and not serious for two reasons. One, there is no time for such action to occur when the General Assembly reconvenes July 11, 2012. Two, it would negate the hard work of the Romney and Paul campaigns who followed the rules and got the job done. Virginia House Speaker William J. Howell noted: “It’s the law. I like Gingrich, personally. I just don’t think you’re going to see a majority change the law to benefit one person.”
I like Gingrich too and think he’s the best man standing to tackle Obama in 2012. But Gingrich needs to abandon his Field of Dreams in getting on Virginia’s ballot, own up to his gross mistake, prove he seriously wants to be POTUS, and not make of fool of himself or his loyal supporters a second time.
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