Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich sent a rather scathing letter to Mike Duncan on Tuesday, accusing the RNC chairman of engaging in "a destructive distraction" by attempting to tie Barack Obama to Rod Blagojevich. In particular, Gingrich hit the RNC for putting out a web ad that made it seem as if the President-elect was hiding a nefarious chapter of his personal history with the embattled Illinois Governor.
"The RNC should pull the ad down immediately," Gingrich writes.
I was saddened to learn that at a time of national trial, when a president-elect is preparing to take office in the midst of the worst financial crisis in over seventy years, that the Republican National Committee is engaged in the sort of negative, attack politics that the voters rejected in the 2006 and 2008 election cycles.
The recent web advertisement, "Questions Remain," is a destructive distraction. Clearly, we should insist that all taped communications regarding the Senate seat should be made public. However, that should be a matter of public policy, not an excuse for political attack.
In a time when America is facing real challenges, Republicans should be working to help the incoming President succeed in meeting them, regardless of his Party.
From now until the inaugural, Republicans should be offering to help the President-elect prepare to take office.
Furthermore, once President Obama takes office, Republicans should be eager to work with him when he is right, and, when he is wrong, offer a better solution, instead of just opposing him.
This is the only way the Republican Party will become known as the "better solutions" party, not just an opposition party. And this is the only way Republicans will ever regain the trust of the voters to return to the majority.
This ad is a terrible signal to be sending about both the goals of the Republican Party in the midst of the nation's troubled economic times and about whether we have actually learned anything from the defeats of 2006 and 2008.
There has been, it seems, two mindsets within the GOP as to how to revitalize the party in the wake of its '06 and '08 losses: seek political blood against Barack Obama whenever possible, or focus on reaching out to moderates and minorities. In addition to Gingrich, Sen. John McCain -- appearing on "This Week" Sunday -- offered a dig at the RNC for their obsession with Obama's (apparently limited or nonexistent) links to Blagojevich.
A Republican strategist, asked about the Gingrich letter, said he agreed with the former House Majority Leader. But, he added, "I think that Newt wants a change at the RNC, and it is an intervention in the RNC race."
(h/t Ben Smith)