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Analysis: Gingrich Speech to State GOP Example of Party’s California Dilemma

| February 27, 2012
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For those who just can’t get enough Newt — here’s his entire 45-minute speech on Saturday at the California Republican convention in Burlingame. (“Just a short drive south of Pelosiville,” according to KQED Sacramento Bureau Chief John Myers.)

Myers’ take on Gingrich’s speech: It’s a good example of the GOP’s California dilemma…

Throw the party’s base supporters some choice red meat… and risk that persuadable voters who tune into the media coverage recoil. But tamp down the fiery rhetoric in hopes of projecting a “kinder, gentler” image… and risk leaving the party faithful full of accusations that moderates are trying to water down the GOP brand…

It’s a dilemma that has frankly been playing itself out for several years running at the semi-annual (yes, two of them every year) state GOP confabs. This weekend’s gathering… seemed to find California Republicans trying to do both things, though with a decided tilt to the red meat base strategy.

That was best seen by having Newt Gingrich, the opinionated and often bombastic former House speaker, as their featured attraction. In a 45-minute lecture like oratory, the Georgia politician not only excoriated President Barack Obama on foreign and energy policy, he also seemed to wade into issues that certainly wouldn’t seem to produce headlines that would leave middle-of-the-road voters clamoring to vote Republican.

Take, for example, his strong endorsement of offshore oil drilling.

“85% of the offshore acreage is not available,” said Gingrich in a critique of the President’s recent comments about offshore drilling options. “I think you’d find, if we opened up offshore, it would be amazing how fast things would be developed.”

While Gingrich went on to say that states should control their own coasts, he boasted that even California pols would change their tune under a Gingrich administration. “Sacramento would start thinking seriously about development” under his proposal to allow states to keep 50% of offshore oil drilling royalties, he said. Full post here

By the way, the latest Field Poll shows Obama beating Gingrich in a general section matchup 56 percent to 33 percent, roughly the same margin by which the president would defeat Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum, according to the survey.

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Category: Environment, Politics

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