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An Able Gingrich Makes for a Bad Cain

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.

Rule #1 if you’re running for political office, particularly President of the United States, you expect an unimaginable scrutiny of your past by the news media! You prepare for the worst because if there are skeletons in your closet, they will be found. What you don’t do is make excuses for why reporters are digging up dirt on you, like Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain did when Politico ran its story, alleging he sexually harassed several women.

Politics can be dirty sport and the news media can be even dirtier. When it comes to tearing down candidates, reporters love a challenge, taking no prisoners and knowing no friends. People, who are serious about running for POTUS, hire competent staff who deal with the reality of a hostile 4th estate and vet the candidate for any scintilla of controversy.

The news media’s relentless pursuit of the Politico story is not a “high tech lynching” of Cain because he’s black. These kind of stories happen to politicians every day and in every election. In 1992, Bill Clinton was dogged by allegations of infidelity and faced the music head on during an infamous 60 Minutes interview sitting lovingly, alongside Hillary Clinton. He kept his story straight and consistent, refusing to address any details for which reporters were rabid.

Responding to a question from Newt Gingrich at the end of the debate hosted by the Texas Tea Party this past weekend, Cain said the one thing he didn’t anticipate about running for POTUS was the “nit picking” from the news media. This response along with his performance during the debate left many with the impression Cain isn’t ready for the job of president but better suited for a supporting role to Gingrich.

In what was designed to be a modern day re-play of the Lincoln-Douglass style debate, Newt Gingrich reinforced he’s the best candidate in the GOP field with what appears to be the slimmest odds of capturing the nomination. Newt not only was knowledgeable of the issues but gave practical solutions for solving the country’s problems. Conversely, Cain repeatedly abdicated first responses to questions to Gingrich and kept agreeing with Newt’s answers. This is a not a great tactic to use to solidify one’s front-runner status among the GOP presidential contenders.

When asked what the candidates would do about unemployment benefits, Cain sounded unrealistic when he said he would cut benefits by half then number of weeks each time a person came back for more benefits. Cain said this would force people to look harder for a job. This may sound nice in theory but some 14 million people unemployed in this country many of whom have been unemployed for more than a year are looking very hard for jobs.

Gingrich’s response was more practical under situation, saying unemployed workers should have to do some kind of work in exchange for collecting government checks and be required to take job training classes. On welfare and Medicaid reform, Gingrich also shined and again talked common sense. Both men emphasized the need to get Americans off of welfare. Newt observed welfare encourages people to stay on the dole and not rise above: “Nobody should get something for nothing unless they have a very severe disability. If you are an able bodied person and getting something for nothing, we are pretty stupid for giving it to you.”

Gingrich reminded everyone rampant fraud in Medicaid and Medicare forcing the government to pay $70 billion-$120 billion a year to crooks, gaming the system and the Congressional deficit reduction super committee isn’t even looking at this.

Both Cain and Newt agreed Medicaid block grant to the states was the best way to reform the program. But Gingrich offered fresh thinking again saying Medicaid recipients should be held accountable for the care they receive and suffer consequences for abusing the system. He added the “taxpayer shouldn’t be a sucker to be exploited.”

Newt went further adding government and Democrats need to stop treating poor people like they are helpless without responsibility.

“If we are going to provide you with an opportunity to live in public housing, maybe you should have a role in cleaning it up and painting it and fixing it. . . This will be a huge debate with the left. The left has this model in which everybody is weak, helpless and stupid but government will somehow take care of them which leads me to wonder, who do they think government hires?”

On Social Security, Cain talked about personal retirement accounts as an option to younger workers and referred to the Chilean model, as he often has. But it was Newt who electrified the audience with more common sense. Gingrich referred to Galveston County in Texas, which opted out of Social Security in 1982 for county employees in favor of private retirement accounts. Employees put in half as much money and received twice as much back. Newt noted: “You let younger Americans chose. . .If you have your own personal savings account and you want to retire early on a smaller amount of money. . .Why would Congress tell you not to?. . .Get politicians out of that decision making and let Americans control their own lives.”

When the moderator asked both men about Medicare: “Defined benefit plan or premium support?” Cain looked bewildered and replied “You go first Newt.” By deferring complicated questions to Newt and agreeing with him on many topics, Cain left us with the impression he was auditioning for the role of vice presidential candidate. While Newt looked like he was more than ABLE to step over Cain into the role of president.

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