GOP hopeful Newt Gingrich became emotional during a campaign stop in Des Moines, Iowa yesterday. The former Speaker's reaction came in response to a question from GOP pollster and strategist Frank Luntz. Watch the segment below:
I've watched this several times and I'm not finding it fully genuine.
First of all, for the question to come from Frank Luntz, makes it impossible to assume innocence...at least in my eyes. Luntz knows exactly what he's doing and how various questions illicit various responses and how those responses effect audiences/viewers/VOTERS. Luntz is one of the very best in his field and has a supportive relationship with Gingrich. He goes back to the Contract With America days...
Second of all, I lost my own mother several years ago and certainly understand the range of emotions that go with a life changing loss such as that. For me, the tears ceased some time ago. That's not to suggest in anyway that I no longer think of her...I do, daily. Its also not to suggest I don't miss her. Again, I do. Its a function of time that allows the raw emotions of her passing to evolve into something different. Something, for me less raw and more cerebral. More thoughtful. Perhaps its familiarity with her not being around anymore. I'm also not suggesting that how I cope with her loss is how every man should cope with the loss of his mother. Its an individual thing which short of producing some sort of dysfunctional behavior (can't work, sleep, eat, etc...) there are no real wrong or right ways to address it. We all find the path that best suits us and yields the most comfort.
What I find difficult to swallow is that with the death of his mother, Kit ten years ago, Gingrich had such a visceral response to the question Luntz sent his way. Gingrich is slumping badly in the polls, not really considered a threat to win the upcoming Iowa Caucus next week, and has seen a steady stream of opposition ads taking square aim at him over the same time period. Things aren't going well...again, for the Gingrich who endured troubles at the start of the GOP campaign last Spring.
Was this 100% genuine? Was it an attempt at a five run home run? A mix?
Gingrich knows he needs to do well before he gets to South Carolina and Florida. With the pressure of that, the importance of Iowa and New Hampshire is clear. New Hampshire is a tough one for Newt because its in Romney's back yard, plus Jon Huntsman has apparently made it his mission in life to come in the top two or three which leaves Gingrich realistically hoping for third place. Which leaves Iowa as an almost vital State to come in the top two spots. However, as of today's Des Moines Register latest poll, Gingrich is currently sitting in 4th place, just ahead of Rick Perry. That won't get it done. Also, don't forget, Gingrich doesn't have the ground game that Romney does and he damn sure doesn't have the cash either.
Weighing all of the above leads me to a place where I could see Gingrich needing a game changer. Luntz and Gingrich are experienced old pros at this game. In what might have never been spoken about openly, I think somehow a signal was sent from one camp to another that if a certain door was to be opened, I'll certainly walk through it.
I could be way off base, but my bottom line assessment of this is that while the emotions were likely real and genuine, the moment was manufactured.