Newt Gingrich’s route: Leave no state behind

May 11, 2011


For Newt Gingrich, who will announce his candidacy Wednesday, the road to the Republican nomination runs through Iowa.

And New Hampshire, South Carolina, Nevada and Florida.

Unlike some of his likely rivals, who are looking to downplay or even flat out skip some states on the primary calendar, Gingrich is headed down a different path, a more traditional route in which he competes aggressively all across the early-state map and among all blocs within the party.

That likely means participating in this summer’s Iowa GOP straw poll in Ames, traditional retail politicking in New Hampshire and making an all-out effort in South Carolina. But Gingrich officials say their effort will be bigger than any one state and look dramatically different than any other campaign.

Because the wealthy Mitt Romney and Jon Huntsman have the capacity to spend their own millions on the campaign and remain on the airwaves even after sustaining early losses, advisers to the former House speaker don’t believe it’s possible to lock up the nomination by winning one or even two of the initial contests. So Gingrich isn’t pinning his hopes on any single state, believing instead that, for those who can’t fund their own campaigns, the drawn-out contest will require a prudent use of resources spread across the board.

“You’ve got to compete everywhere and appeal to Republican primary voters across the board — you can’t cherry-pick places you think you can win,” said Dave Carney, a New Hampshire-based Gingrich strategist and longtime GOP consultant, predicting a “long, hard-fought battle,” thanks to the prospective self-funders.

“Even if their ideas aren’t working and they’re not getting any traction, they can stay in the race,” he said.

Said another Gingrich adviser: “Newt’s a national candidate. He has a national brand; he’s a national leader.”

The former speaker is already gearing up in first-in-the-nation Iowa. In addition to directing $150,000 last year to a campaign that unseated a trio of state Supreme Court justices who had ruled unconstitutional a state ban on same-sex marriage, Gingrich is putting together a strong field organization and is expected to show up at Ames.

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