Learning From Our Mistakes.

May 6, 2008

Chad Rogers has a new rant up about the aftermath of the Sixth District Congressional race, and he concludes that the seat will belong to the Democrats for some time to come.

Looking at the landscape as it is today, he may be right. But political landscapes in Louisiana are like the weather in Louisiana – wait a minute, it will change. (Just ask Ray Nagin.) And we are a hurricane season away from November.

Yes, I think Michael Jackson is posturing for something other than a seat in Congress. And now that they have the seat, I agree that the Democrats will cut whatever deal they have to keep him out of the race in November.

But before Republicans write off the Sixth District, we need to figure out what went wrong this past weekend. We lost a seat that, less than two years ago, a moderate-conservative GOP incumbent won with 82.81% of the vote. Eight-two point eight-one percent. So it is winnable. If we learn from our mistakes.

Mistake No. 1: We didn’t run an electable candidate.

If a moderate-conservative technocrat gets you 80% of the vote, you run a moderate conservative technocrat. Let’s face facts – or election results: Woody Jenkins was seen as too extreme. Jenkins had high negatives, a lot of baggage, and had proven history of not being able to win races outside of his old statehouse district. Jenkins’ divisive image turned off many Baker Republicans as well as Democrats – likely enough that it cost the GOP the seat. Jenkins was easy to demagogue – which the national Democratic PACs did with abandon – and his answers to their attacks were either lackluster or nonexistent. Woody Jenkins ain’t no Ronald Reagan or Bobby Jindal. Because of this his opponent, Don Cazayoux, came across as the more genuine, sincere, and (this is important) less threatening – no matter how much the national Republican PACs tried to tie Cazayoux to Pelosi and Obama.

Mistake No. 2: We forgot that all politics is local. Doubly so in local races.

Pelosi and Obama were not running for Congress in the Sixth District. If your main argument for votes is “send-me-to-Washington-because-the-other-guy-is-just-a-stooge-for Pelosi/Clinton/Obama,” you’ve lost the race. What are you going to do differently with respect this district is the question, and Jenkins never really answered it. Not in local terms, anyway. Both of the candidates came across as fairly conservative – no one can win (or stay in office) in the Sixth District by supporting things like abortion or gun control. If your predecessor won 80-plus percent of the vote focused on certain local issues, that would be a good place to start. Example: If you are asked a question about the proposed Baton Rouge loop, don’t respond with a 10-minute history of the erosion of property rights in the last 50 years, and how a Nancy Pelosi-led Congress must be stopped before they go further. Answer. The. Bloody. Question.

Mistake No. 3: Pessimism and negativism doesn’t sell.

Voters vote their hopes as much as their fears. Ronald Reagan won in 1980 because he offered hope. Ditto Bobby Jindal in 2007. Whenever they pointed out how bad things were, they always pointed out how good things can be. Not could be; can be. Optimists are always more desirable than pessimists.

You can criticize the other guy, but if you can’t clearly articulate what you’re for and how that makes you the better choice for the job, maybe you shouldn’t be in the race. The constant barrage of negative ads eventually turns off voters, especially if there are no positive ads in there as well. Since almost all of the Republican ads were negative, especially in the last weeks, I think this hit the GOP worse than the Democrats. One of the smartest things Woody Jenkins could have done was to tell the national GOP PAC’s to shut up.

Can we win back the seat in November? I don’t know. It will be an uphill battle like Chad said, and the Democrats will fight, and fight nasty in my opinion, to keep this seat. But unlike Chad, I don’t think it’s a lost cause. Much will depend on what kind of voting record Don Cazayoux establishes in his few months in office, and on how the Presidential election is going. But much will also depend on the GOP learning from it’s mistakes. And running a divisive candidate was a mistake.

Three months ago this seat was the Republican’s to loose. Now that Woody Jenkins has accomplished that, we Republicans need to regroup and move on. We need to give folks a reason to vote for the GOP once again in November, and we need a candidate who can articulate that reason in a hail of Democratic attacks sure to come. Who that is, I don’t know yet. But I, for one, ain’t going to give up that easy.

UPDATE: Aparrently, someone isn’t learning. Two jaw-droppers from an article at Politico.com:

Jenkins, who said he may run again for the seat in November

They say insanity is doing the same thing over and over again the same way, and expecting a different result.

And they say stupidity is backing someone who you know can’t win:

(NRCC Chairman) Cole’s supporters, for their part, are laying the blame for Saturday’s loss directly at the feet of their candidate, former Louisiana state legislator Woody Jenkins, calling him a “flawed candidate” who failed to raise enough money or come up with a message to beat Democrat Don Cazayoux.

Maybe Chad is right – we Republicans are totally screwed in November if we don’t get our act together. And fast.

MARIANNE GINGRICH, EX-WIFE OF FORMER REP. NEWT GINGRICH, R-GA., MARIANNE GINGRICH, EX-WIFE OF FORMER REP. NEWT GINGRICH, R-GA., PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE, IS INTERVIEWED ON ABC’S “NIGHTLINE”

Washington Transcript Service January 19, 2012

Washington Transcript Service 01-19-2012 MARIANNE GINGRICH, EX-WIFE OF FORMER REP. NEWT GINGRICH, R-GA., PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE, IS INTERVIEWED ON ABC’S “NIGHTLINE” JANUARY 19, 2012 SPEAKERS: MARIANNE GINGRICH, EX-WIFE OF FORMER REP. NEWT GINGRICH, R-GA., PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE, CYNTHIA MCFADDEN, ABC ANCHOR JAKE TAPPER, ABC ANCHOR TERRY MORAN, ABC ANCHOR [*] MORAN (voice-over): Tonight on NIGHTLINE — breaking her silence, in an exclusive TV interview, one of presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich’s ex-wives speaks out, questioning his moral fitness to be president.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) M. GINGRICH: Well, he was asking to have an open marriage.

(END VIDEO CLIP) MORAN (voice-over): And as controversy swirls around our interview, his daughters tell us they don’t believe the allegations.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) KATHY LUBBERS, DAUGHTER OF NEWT GINGRICH: He said it’s simply not true.

(END VIDEO CLIP) MORAN (voice-over): On the rocks — the mystery woman seen with the captain of the Italian cruise ship the night it crashed. Plus, the shocking call between the ship’s crew and shore, as the boat went down.

And a star is born. Siri, Shiloh, and now baby Blue, all famous before they were even born. We look at what life is like for the youngest paparazzi fodder.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: From the global resources of ABC News, with Terry Moran, Cynthia McFadden and Bill Weir in New York City, this is NIGHTLINE, January 19th, 2012.

MORAN: Good evening. I’m Terry Moran. And we begin tonight with a story at the white-hot intersection of presidential politics, private lives and character. Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich is surging in South Carolina, where voters go to the polls Saturday.

Gingrich has been in the public eye for decades. And he’s had a complicated private life. He’s spoken openly about that life on the campaign trail, admitted wrongdoing and said he sought forgiveness and reconciliation.

His two ex-wives have stayed quiet on the sidelines. Tonight, ABC’s Brian Ross investigates. Brian?

ROSS: Terry, tonight, one of them is breaking her silence, his second wife, Marianne, saying she does not believe Gingrich has the moral character necessary to be president.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) ROSS (voice-over): Marianne Gingrich was married to Newt for 18 years when he asked her for a divorce. go to web site newt gingrich bio

M. GINGRICH: It started with a phone call at my mother’s house.

And he asked for a divorce.

ROSS: On the phone?

M. GINGRICH: On the phone. And he said, “I want a divorce.” I said, “Is there somebody else?” And it was quiet. And I knew.

ROSS (voice-over): Now, 12 years later, Marianne Gingrich is talking on television for the first time, a kind of January surprise for her ex-husband, as he faces a crucial presidential primary in South Carolina this Saturday.

M. GINGRICH: If he’s running for president, he has answers to give.

ROSS: You know his secrets. You know his skeletons.

M. GINGRICH: I know some of them.

ROSS: Gingrich is now married to that somebody else, the other woman, Callista, a devout Catholic, who has claimed she was Newt’s mistress for some six years while he was still married to Marianne.

M. GINGRICH: I found out during our conversations, that it was occurring in my bedroom in our apartment in Washington. And he always called me at night. He always ended with, “I love you.” Well, she was there listening.

ROSS: Right next to him?

M. GINGRICH: In my home.

ROSS (voice-over): Washington is a place full of two-timing politicians, with a long trail of sordid affairs, ugly divorces and hypocrisy.

As Speaker of the House, in the middle of his own secret affair with Callista, Gingrich was calling for the impeachment of President Bill Clinton for lying about his affair with Monica Lewinsky.

FORMER REP. NEWT GINGRICH, R-GA., PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:

There’s no administration in the American history with less moral authority than the Clinton-Gore administration.

ROSS (voice-over): And now, as a candidate for president, Gingrich regularly expounds on family values and the sanctity of marriage between a man and a woman.

N. GINGRICH: And it’s something worth protecting and upholding.

ROSS (voice-over): But he has also freely admitted to his moral face.

N. GINGRICH: I’ve said up front openly I’ve made mistakes at times. I’ve had to go to God for forgiveness. I’ve had to seek reconciliation.

ROSS: Marianne says Gingrich has never asked her for forgiveness, and that when first seeking a divorce, Newt actually asked for her an arrangement under which he could have both a wife and a mistress.

M. GINGRICH: I said to him, Newt, we’ve been married a long time. And he said, yes, but you want me all to yourself. Callista doesn’t care what I do.

ROSS: What was he saying, do you think?

M. GINGRICH: Oh, he was asking to have an open marriage. And I refused.

ROSS: He wanted an open marriage?

M. GINGRICH: Yes. That I accept the fact that he has somebody else in his life.

ROSS: And you said — ?

M. GINGRICH: No. No. That is not a marriage.

ROSS (voice-over): Gingrich asked for a divorce from his first wife, Jackie, while she was being treated for cancer. He sought to divorce Marianne, she says, months after she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, MS.

ROSS: Did he know you had MS?

M. GINGRICH: Yes.

ROSS: When he asked you for the divorce?

M. GINGRICH: Yes. And he also was advised by the doctor when I was sitting there that I was not to be under stress. He knew. go to web site newt gingrich bio

ROSS (voice-over): During tonight’s CNN debate in South Carolina, the first question of the evening was about the open marriage allegations. And Gingrich angrily denied it to cheers from the audience.

N. GINGRICH: You chose to start the debate with it. Don’t try to blame somebody else. You and your staff chose to start this debate with it. Let me be quite clear. Let me be quite clear. This story is false. Every personal friend I had who knew us in that period says that story was false.

ROSS (voice-over): Earlier, the campaign also made available his two daughters from his first marriage.

LUBBERS: The truth, I mean, Brian, is that our father and Marianne had a difficult marriage. They had a difficult divorce. She’s unhappy. And this has been over for over a decade.

JACKIE CUSHMAN, DAUGHTER OF NEWT GINGRICH: He’s a much different person than he was then. He’s grown. He’s gotten closer to God. His faith in God has grown. And I think what people need to remember is this happened a very long time ago. And, you know, we wish Marianne no ill will. We wish her the very best. But it happened a long time ago.

ROSS (voice-over): Marianne Gingrich says she does have many fond memories of Newt, holding hands on the mall, hiking in the mountains, dressing up on Halloween, a time when she says they were without power or much money.

ROSS: Did that create a desire to get rich?

M. GINGRICH: I think — we always talked that money would come when he left Congress.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Would the gentleman from Georgia please raise his right hand?

ROSS (voice-over): But while still in Congress, as Gingrich became Speaker of the House, they traveled the world, even as he and she were caught up in several ethics investigations. On this issue, Marianne defends her ex-husband.

ROSS: Is he an ethical man?

M. GINGRICH: At the time, I believed him to be ethical.

ROSS (voice-over): Marianne herself became the subject of an FBI sting investigation, after meeting in Paris with a notorious arms dealer, who was working as an undercover government source. The investigation was ultimately dropped.

But a 1997 FBI document, obtained by ABC News says, Gingrich told the source that she was in a position to get things done in Congress and asked for $500,000 for herself, up front, as part of an alleged $10 million bribe to buy influence with her husband, the Speaker of the House.

M. GINGRICH: This is all made up, fabricated hogwash. This is a convicted felon talking with people who have nothing to do with me.

ROSS: But you met with him?

M. GINGRICH: I did meet with him.

ROSS: It would cost $10 million to get the job done. Did you — did you ever try to sell your husband’s position?

M. GINGRICH: Heavens, no.

ROSS (voice-over): Newt Gingrich lost his power as Speaker of the House and resigned from Congress in 1998. A year later, he asked for a divorce and, says Marianne, began to plan his campaign to run for president with Callista by his side, who is probably best known in this campaign for the hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of jewelry Gingrich bought for her at Tiffany’s.

M. GINGRICH: He did tell me once that she was going to help him become president.

ROSS: What was your reaction to that?

M. GINGRICH: Didn’t look like help to me.

(END VIDEO CLIP) ROSS: We asked the Gingrich campaign if he would appear tonight in our report, but they declined to make him available. Following Gingrich’s strong denial tonight of the open marriage allegations, I checked back with his ex-wife, Marianne, who told me by phone she stands by her story.

My story is the truth, she told me. If he had really changed, he could have stepped up tonight and said he was sorry. But he never has.

So that is her reaction tonight, Terry.

And a tough one it is, Brian. And as you know, this story has sparked a lot of controversy. And tonight at that CNN debate in South Carolina, Newt Gingrich spoke out passionately about it, about the whole subject, after moderator John King had made it the focus of his first question.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) N. GINGRICH: I think the destructive, vicious, negative nature of much of the news media makes it harder to govern this country, harder to attract decent people to run for public office.

And I am appalled that you would begin a presidential debate on a topic like this, to take an ex-wife and make it two days before the primary a significant question in a presidential campaign, is as close to despicable as anything I can imagine.

(END VIDEO CLIP) MORAN: So, you have the story, Newt Gingrich’s reaction and the debate and campaign continue. Brian Ross, thanks very much for that.

END

NO PORTION OF THIS TRANSCRIPTION MAY BE COPIED, SOLD OR RETRANSMITTED WITHOUT THE EXPRESS WRITTEN AUTHORITY OF FEDERAL DOCUMENT CLEARING HOUSE, INC.


4 comments
julie
julie

Thanks. Though I would support Laurinda again and think she would have a chance, I know people who don't think she could pull it off. My argument is that she has more of a name now. Hr positive campaign would be even more noticeable now. After all the negative ads from this last campaign, she would be like a breath of fresh air. Hunter would be another excellent choice, and I'd definitely support him too. I just hope that one of them, or someone similar, has the campaign resources/funds, the name, and the confidence to run against Cazayoux. But I think it has to be someone who already has a foot in the door. BTW, I don't believe Baker would have left office unless he'd been sure that he would be replaced with another Republican.

clifford
clifford

Chad: I don't think many of the typically known names in GOP circles can/will do it. I think the challenger will be a name we haven't heard before, or one that is fairly new to politics. See my comment to Julie, below, for my suggestions. Julie: I agree with you on Woody's strengths/weaknesses. I supported Laurinda Calongne in the primary. I think she could have beaten Cazayoux, and I would support her again if she wanted to run in November. I could also support Hunter Greene if he decided to get into the race. Both excellent choices.

julie
julie

Paul Sawyer messed up his campaign with negative ads in the first primary; Woody may have done the same in the general election. People are tired of mud-slinging. Woody should have stuck to stressing the good he’s done in the way of laws and charity work, for instance. Though he already had the name recognition, which is partly what he ran on, I, personally, had never been so inundated with snail mail, most negative toward Cazayoux, and phone calls on behalf of the Woody campaign-- Call it over-kill. If Woody had gotten the seat, there is no doubt that he could have been able to accomplish his agenda on a national level. He has a way of working with other politicians. However, his inability to win this election, despite aggressive advertising, indicates that his candidacy did not represent the majority of his constituency who cared to vote. Though he made it in the 1st and 2nd primaries, he could not make it for the General Election. I believe that Laurinda is the one who could have beaten Cazayoux in this major race. She is conservative, but more moderate, so Dems would have voted for her. She may have also pulled in more female votes from those who normally don’t vote for conservatives. Woody, on the other hand, is on the extreme right, which will not appeal to ANY Democrat. In addition, she does not have the “baggage” Woody has. On the one hand, having experience from a long career in politics can be a plus in a campaign; on the other, it can be detrimental, especially when that political history is based on negative fact overexploited by the media. For instance, his link to the David Duke mailing list was bad enough, but he made it worse by denying the association, only to have it later proven, which, of course, made him look like a liar in the public eye. More recently, as editor of several local newspapers, he falsely accused the school board of not advertising for the tax renewal, which was proposed in order to continue the long-term project for school improvements. A rebuttal was televised, showing proof of public advertisements, which, in effect, showed that he had lied or lacked sufficient information, neither result conducive to being viewed favorably by voters. Woody has basically run on a pro-life platform for years, getting many campaign funds from well-meaning groups who pay for him to be their token, to represent the conservative platform. But being totally pro-life with no exceptions is too extreme for most people; it is, in itself, a form of government control, the very philosophy that Republicans are against. Being conservative is not just about being pro-life. It is about fiscal and social responsibility, about individual freedom coupled with personal responsibility. Being a Republican is about the American dream, about having the freedom to build a better life, which is what the founding fathers of our Republic of the United States of America envisioned with the written establishment of principles set forth to guide this nation. And this is what single-issue, pro-life platform Republicans fail to understand.

Chaddo
Chaddo

Some good points. Baker is constantly labeled a "moderate," though he has one of the most conservative voting records in congress. I think Baker was conservative, pure and simple. Though he wasn't an ideologue. Rather then defend or find fault with Woody, I pose a question: who else was there? Dardenne's name has been floated- but that's happened before and he didn't run. Though he's probably the GOP's best shot, his pattern of behavior suggests he doesn't much care for elections where there's a serious opponent. We'll see.

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