The Republican Party's internal class war between the haves and have-mores is getting heated as the soundbite driven small donors bitterly denounce the quieter party elite for picking a presidential candidate they don't like, Mitt Romney. "They haven’t gotten it yet, those people in New York," Gay Gaines told The New York Times' Nicholas Confessore. "Many of those people I know, and quite a few of them really wanted Chris Christie to run. They turned somersaults to get him to run, and that man said no. So they say, I guess it’s Romney. And guess what? It’s not going to work. It doesn’t matter how much money they’ve raised." Who is Gay Gaines? She is not a person in New York, but she is also not quite the outsider her quote to The Times would suggest. Now a resident of Palm Beach, Florida, a town that looks humble only when compared to Manhattan's Upper East Side, Gaines has been a longtime fundraiser for Gingrich, running his non-profit GOPAC and landing an appointment to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting under George W. Bush. Here she is attending a 2007 opera night with Newt and Calista.
But in the coverage of Gingrich's campaign's need to raise money and build an infrastructure, someone like Gaines finds herself cast as the small fry up against the Republican party's true elite: the billionaire backers. More than 10 percent of American billionaires have donated to Romney's campaign, The Washington Post's T.W. Farnam reports. Of the 412 American billionaires, 42 have donated to Romney, just four had given money to Gingrich as of September. This week, Gingrich is touring through fancy parts of Manhattan and Washington to bring in big checks his campaign has been lacking. In September, Confessore explains, Romney had almost 8,000 donors who'd given him the $2,500 maximum contribution, while Gingrich had only attracted 293. On Monday, Gingrich had private meetings with big donors, made an appearance at the Union League Club and the "Monday Meeting" of conservative leaders at the Grand Hyatt. Politico's Kenneth P. Vogel and Anna Palmer report that Gingrich will make a similar tour through Washington's lobbyist row, K Street, on Wednesday. "It’s a turnaround from this summer, when Washington’s political class mostly turned its back on the former House speaker," Politico writes. And Romney is far ahead:
Romney has long had a stronghold among Republican K Streeters — working early and often to secure support and fundraising dollars. “It’s a methodical slow march,” one long-time Romney supporter said of the candidate’s Washington charm offensive. The Massachusetts Republican had held at least seven events in the metro region. His son, Tagg Romney, is headlining a Dec. 14 event and Romney, himself, will be in Richmond Thursday for an event.
Romney has gotten about 55 percent of the endorsements of Republican officials, compared to Gingrich's 5 percent, The New York Times' Nate Silver writes, and "The magnitude of this discrepancy is historically unusual -- perhaps even entirely unprecedented in the era of the modern primary (from 1972 onward)." He continues:
Republicans are sometimes thought of as the party of the establishment. But the party’s leadership has spent much of the last three decades cultivating distrust among its rank and file about the legitimacy of these institutions, particularly the government and the news media. This may have contributed to the party’s electoral successes. But it’s also possible that Republican elites have neutered their ability to influence how voters decide on a candidate. If so, they may end up with Mr. Gingrich rather than Mr. Romney.
"The GOP elite pushing Romney - they don't call them stupid party for nothing!!" a Free Republic poster complained in November. If the elite hates Gingrich, there might not be much they can do about it, New York's Jonathan Chait writes, noting that they couldn't prevent Republican voters from picking Sharron Angle as their nominee against Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid in 2010, when Reid was very vulnerable. And they might not want to anyway, Chait says, because they picked Gingrich as their leader once before, and Sarah Palin as the vice-presidential nominee in 2008. The "Republican elite’s crazy radar does not seem to be the most finely tuned instrument."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to firstname.lastname@example.org.