Tales from the Trail

from Political Theater:

Gingrich challenges Obama to debates, says he can use a teleprompter

Newt Gingrich delighted a crowd of supporters with jokes about President Obama's debating skills and "ego" at a campaign stop in Naples, Florida, over the weekend, where he repeated his promise to challenge Obama to “seven Lincoln-Douglas style debates” in the general election.

Gingrich, who described the debates as, "two adults, talking about the nation," told the crowd that if Obama wanted to use a teleprompter during the debates, "it would be fine" with him. "It has to be fair," he said to cheers.

"If you had to defend ObamaCare, wouldn’t you want a teleprompter?”

Gingrich predicted Obama would agree to the debates because of his "ego":

"Can you imagine him looking in the mirror -- graduate from Columbia, Harvard Law, editor of the Law Review journal, greatest articulator in the Democratic party...How is he going to say that he's afraid to be on the same podium with a West Georgia College teacher?"

Here's the clip, via Thesharktank1 (teleprompter comments start at 0:45):

from Political Theater:

With Barney Frank’s farewell, a few video highlights

Whatever your view of his politics, it is difficult to deny Rep. Barney Frank's inimitable facility with the spoken word. With the news of his retirement, it seems only appropriate to look back on a few of his best video moments.

Ezra Klein deserves a hearty hat tip for his roundup (do check it out), which leads with the most must-see of Frank's takedowns:

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Frank also has strong opinions about members of the current Republican presidential field, particularly Newt Gingrich, who suggested during a recent debate that Frank might deserve prison time for his role in the housing crisis (more at this video):

Gingrich takes heat over “amnesty”

Electrified fences, predator drones and anchor babies were nowhere to be found when the subject of illegal immigration came up in the latest of a series of Republican presidential debates.

The softer, gentler tone Tuesday night at Constitution Hall was a contrast from when the White House hopefuls took on the subject at a debate in Las Vegas last month.

But there was still heat at the Washington debate — and this time Newt Gingrich got scorched by expressing a relatively moderate position on illegal immigration.

Highlights from the GOP Thanksgiving Family Forum

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Six of the Republican presidential candidates met at the First Federated Church in Des Moines, Iowa, last night for a dinnertime “family discussion” at the Thanksgiving Family Forum. Gathered around a wooden table garnished with a centerpiece of artificial pumpkins, moderator Frank Luntz asked Michelle Bachmann, Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul, Rick Perry, and Rick Santorum about their views on social issues, morality, personal responsibility, and God. Neither of the two Mormon candidates, Mitt Romney and Jon Huntsman, were in attendance. Here are some of the most memorable moments:

1. Gingrich tells OWS: “Go get a job — right after you take a bath.”

Asked about the role of personal responsibility in society, Gingrich quoted John Smith (of Pocahontas fame): “In 1607 in the first English speaking permanent colony, [Smith said] to the aristocrats who had paid their way and didn’t want to work: ‘If you don’t work, you won’t eat.’”

The same principle, he said, should apply to Occupy Wall Street protesters, all of whom “start with a premise that we all owe them everything.”

Gingrich fascinated by Romney computer wipe

Republican Newt Gingrich had not heard of a controversy surrounding some of the final actions of rival Mitt Romney’s staff when Romney was governor of Massachusetts, but suggested the ploy might even turn up in one of his books in the future.

The Boston Globe reported this week that when Romney was leaving the statehouse in 2006 after one term as governor, eleven of his staff were allowed to use their own money to purchase their work computers’ hard drives, and the Romney administration’s emails were all wiped from a server.

“They did what?” Gingrich said when asked about it at a press conference in Cambridge, Massachusetts, after a film screening. “I’m now in non-candidate mode, of simply being curious as a citizen.”

Washington Extra – Patriotic millionaires

As Democrats and Republicans hunkered down on opposite sides of the Capitol on Wednesday, showing no signs of a compromise on slashing the deficit, a group called the Patriotic Millionaires for Fiscal Strength made its move.

Nearly 140 members wrote a letter to President Barack Obama and the U.S. Congress to “do the right thing” and “raise our taxes.” Next they hit up the bipartisan “super committee,” laboring under a Nov. 23 deadline to reach agreement on the deficit or trigger unpalatable budget cuts.

One of the corporate patriots said if Congress ended Bush-era tax cuts it would affect him and his fellow millionaires in his group “about as much as a dead fly interrupts a picnic.”

Newt goes back to school

Newt Gingrich may not have thrilled a crowd of Iowa school kids with all of his answers on Tuesday, but he cannot be accused of pandering to them.

Gingrich didn’t score points with the 200 or so middle and high schoolers  in Osage, Iowa, with his answer to the U.S. falling behind in the brain race with China.

“You’ve got to study more,” he told the kids, who stared back. “Scores in the end aren’t the teacher’s problem; they are the student’s problem.”

Newt’s campaign contributions surge alongside his rising favorability

Newly anointed Republican front-runner Newt Gingrich has raised more money since October 1 than during the rest of his presidential campaign, as rising poll numbers have prompted his fans to open their wallets.

The former Speaker of the House of Representatives has raised at least $3 million since October 1, said campaign spokesman R.C. Hammond. The donations have averaged $100 each and he is attracting 1,000 new donors each day.

In contrast, Gingrich took in less than $800,000 in the third quarter ending September 30, according to filings with the Federal Election Commission. At that point, he was trailing far behind most of his rivals for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination — former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, Texas Governor Rick Perry, Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, Texas Congressman Ron Paul, businessman Herman Cain and former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman.

from Political Theater:

Five must-see moments from the GOP foreign policy debate

The Republican presidential candidates assembled in Spartanburg, South Carolina, last night for a primary debate, the first to focus entirely on foreign policy and national security. In a dialogue that spanned assorted geopolitical challenges -- including Iran's quest for nuclear weapons, America's strategic relationship with Pakistan, and trade with China -- the eight Republicans outlined the approaches they would take to diplomacy if elected head of state. Here are five of the most notable exchanges:

1. Is torture acceptable under any circumstances? And is water boarding torture?

"I served on an aircraft carrier during the Vietnam War," wrote a veteran in a question submitted via email that was posed to the candidates. "I believe that torture is always wrong in all cases. What is your stance on torture?"

Newt gets his own SuperPAC

Here’s a sign that Newt Gingrich is poised to make a run in the Republican presidential race — the former Speaker of the House finally has his own SuperPAC.

SuperPACs, “outside” funding groups supporting candidates but not officially tied to campaigns, can raise and spend unlimited amounts of money. They are the hottest trend in U.S. politics, after court decisions last year lifted most restrictions on political fundraising.  Texas Governor Rick Perry may be lagging in the polls, but he has at least seven.  “Restore Our Future,” favoring Republican frontrunner Mitt Romney, raised $12.3 million in the first half of 2011 alone.

Newt’s SuperPAC, “Solutions 2012,” launched on Wednesday night, coinciding with a debate between the candidates vying for the Republican nomination to oppose Democratic President Barack Obama’s re-election.