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Thread: Where Are the Republican Elder Statesmen?

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    Administrator Bill Cosby's Avatar
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    Default Where Are the Republican Elder Statesmen?

    By MICHAEL D. SHEAR
    As the Republican primaries drag on, some in the party are longing for a savior — an elder statesman or wise veteran who has the stature to quietly pull a candidate aside and nudge him out of the race for the good of the party.


    It’s not likely to happen.

    The most plausible target of such a conversation at the moment would be Newt Gingrich, who remains in the race despite having won only two states — including his home of Georgia, where none of the other candidates campaigned.

    In the imaginings of some conservatives who back Rick Santorum, a white knight would huddle with Mr. Gingrich in a back room somewhere, explain to him that staying in the race is helping Mitt Romney, and successfully convince him to bow out.

    But just who would play that role? There is no obvious answer.

    Some leaders in the evangelical Christian community approached Mr. Gingrich quietly in January about getting out of the race, but were rebuffed, according to Richard Land, the president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission at the Southern Baptist Convention.

    “A pretty serious effort was made,” Mr. Land said in an interview Thursday. “I don’t know anybody who could talk him out of it who would be willing to try.”

    Another group that might be inclined to send an emissary to Mr. Gingrich is the Tea Party movement, whose members view with alarm the possibility that Mr. Romney could end up as the standard-bearer for a party they already view as too moderate.

    The Tea Party is by no means monolithic and is not yet old enough to have produced veterans who might broach the subject of departure with Mr. Gingrich. And the few who might do so have a rocky history with Mr. Gingrich anyway.

    In particular, there is no love between Mr. Gingrich and Dick Armey, who served as the majority leader in the House while Mr. Gingrich was speaker. Mr. Armey is now the chairman of FreedomWorks, one of the most prominent Tea Party groups.

    In February, Mr. Armey said that he felt “bad” for Mr. Gingrich and said the former speaker took “a second-rate campaign and turning it into a first-rate vendetta” against Mr. Romney . But given their strained relationship, it seems unlikely that Mr. Armey will be approaching Mr. Gingrich.

    There are veteran Republicans with plenty of stature in Washington — think James Baker, the former secretary of state; Dick Cheney, the former vice president; or the former presidents George H. W. Bush and his son George W. Bush.

    But the establishment is largely backing Mr. Romney. It’s not in their interest to drive Mr. Gingrich from the race.

    “You look at Tennessee, where I live,” said Mr. Land, “and virtually every establishment figure in the state endorsed Romney.”

    If Mr. Gingrich does drop out, those members of the establishment backing Mr. Romney may then feel the urge to pressure Mr. Santorum into a quick end to his campaign. But like Mr. Gingrich, Mr. Santorum is not likely to listen to them.

    Much of Mr. Santorum’s support comes from social conservatives and evangelical Christians, not the mainstream Republicans who back Mr. Romney. And despite his years in the Senate, Mr. Santorum is a bit of a political loner who had few real allies in the Congress.

    The idea of quietly showing a candidate the door is an idea that harkens back to the days when the political parties were run by a handful of power brokers — before “super PACs,” the Tea Party and politics by Twitter diminished the influence of the parties.

    “It was a time when the party bosses controlled the access to money and to the media,” said Doris Kearns Goodwin, a political historian. “They really could tell people to do something or other. I don’t know who those people would be today.”

    The power of the parties and their leadership has been fading for years, Ms. Goodwin said. No one in the Republican or Democratic parties could dissuade Ross Perot from running in 1992. A decade earlier, Senator Edward M. Kennedy challenged President Jimmy Carter to the dismay of the largely powerless Democratic establishment.

    Current candidates no longer need the parties for fund-raising, which has become a business run by independent groups and the candidates themselves. And for publicity, they no longer need the blessing of political bosses who used to control the partisan press.

    In 1920, the elder statesmen of the Republican Party quizzed Warren G. Harding about whether he had any skeletons in his closet the day before choosing him as their presidential nominee. When an affair was later discovered, the bosses sent the married woman and her husband to the Orient for the remainder of the election, Ms. Goodwin said.

    “That’s when they really had power,” she said.

    Mr. Santorum and Mr. Gingrich have both vowed to fight until the Republican National Convention in August. That would force Mr. Romney to continue waging a primary campaign even as President Obama accelerates his 50-state reelection effort.

    John Brabender, one of Mr. Santorum’s chief strategists, said on Thursday that it was not Mr. Santorum’s place to call for Mr. Gingrich to drop out. But he said that’s what needs to happen for the Republican Party to unify behind a single candidate.

    “One thing we do know,” Mr. Brabender said on MSNBC, speaking of Mr. Gingrich, “is that when he is in the race, there is some fracturing of the conservative vote. Believe me, Newt Gingrich is a smart guy. Newt Gingrich doesn’t have to have anybody tell him that’s the case.”

    But Mr. Land said that there’s no one who can really force Mr. Gingrich to accept reality.

    “My sense is that Newt is pretty much an iconoclast at this point in his career. He sees himself as an anti-establishment figure, ” Mr. Land said. “He’s having fun. He loves it.”
    We judge ourselves by our ideals; others by their actions.
    Howard Zinn

    We can have democracy in this country, or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can't have both.

    Louis D. Brandeis

  2. #2

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    Unfortunately, the republican party has Newt, McCain, and that's about it for elder statesmen...the rest are tea baggers all the way.
    WELL, I GUESS THE BORN AGAIN EVANGELICALS PROVED THEY WERE NOT CHRISTIANS. GOOD. NOW LET'S STOP THIS BS RELIGION/GOVERNMENT THINGY AND TAX THESE ORGANIZATIONS TO THE MAX.


  3. #3
    Administrator Bill Cosby's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cookie Parker
    Unfortunately, the republican party has Newt, McCain, and that's about it for elder statesmen...the rest are tea baggers all the way.
    Sad & true........ I can't really think of one......

    They have rewritten history, anyone like that is a traitor, liberal, RINO........
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    We judge ourselves by our ideals; others by their actions.
    Howard Zinn

    We can have democracy in this country, or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can't have both.

    Louis D. Brandeis

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