The Mouth on Newt: Will It Finally Undo His Chances?

As Republican voters hit the polls for the Republican presidential primary, we consider the latest acerbic aside from Newt Gingrich, which seems awfully close to outright racism.

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Newt Gingrich has developed a sideline in this presidential campaign season of hectoring his hosts. Many of these have been examples of skillful deflection. When Newt would really prefer not to discuss his ex-wife's claim that he asked her to agree to an "open marriage," he lashed out at John King for asking him about it, and suggested that it was only the vicious news media that cares about this stuff. Just one more way the liberal media's keeping a good man down.

Of course, the people of South Carolina actually are interested in the extramarital Olympiad that Gingrich seems to have medaled in. The Washington Post's Chris Cillizza took a look at the way Google has been used to gather information about Gingrich in recent days, and discovered the following top four search terms used in conjunction with the name Gingrich. In descending order: "Callista" (the name of his current wife); "Marianne" (the name of his second wife, of open marriage allegation fame); "Newt Scandal"; and "Newt Wives."

It isn't clear, however, that the dredging up of the sex is actually hurting Gingrich, Cillizza says.

What seems more likely to do lasting damage, perhaps, is the way Newt continues to blow dog whistles like Lisa Simpson's saxophone. This is what Juan Williams tried to ask Gingrich about in a debate in Myrtle Beach: doesn't he feel it could be insulting to black people when he declares that they should receive paychecks instead of welfare checks? It's the rare comment that manages to suggest welfare recipients are mostly black (they're mostly white), that they don't know what it's like to have jobs, and that people at the lowest end of the economic spectrum, whatever their race, don't work.

Other candidates, having so stepped in it, would likely try to extricate themselves. (See Santorum, Rick, and the explanation that he was actually generalizing about "bleagh people.") But the only move Newt Gingrich seems to enjoy at a blackjack table is doubling down.

Observe as Chris Hayes and his panelists witness the latest clip of Gingrich using his exchange with Williams to rile up supporters. Hayes, at least, thinks he knows what to call a politician who is mocking a prominent black journalist and suggesting he doesn't even understand the concept of work. He calls it "racist."

It remains to be seen if Republican primary voters are going to start seeing Gingrich's outbursts as a potential liability, or if one of Gingrich's rivals would ever call on him to change the way he's been talking about race. But somewhere in Washington there is a hard drive carefully safeguarding these moments, just in case Gingrich sticks around longer than many people ever thought he would.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.