GOP kingmakers unhappy with choice between Romney, Gingrich for 2012

GOP kingmakers unhappy with choice between Romney, Gingrich for 2012

The Republican presidential primary is shaping up as a two-man race, but influential conservatives are clearly expressing their dissatisfaction with choices A and B. 

In recent weeks, key GOP lawmakers and Republican kingmakers have publicly ripped former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (R). The angst from Republican insiders has sparked questions about how united the GOP base will be in 2012.

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On Sunday, two key conservatives, columnist George Will and Sen. Tom CoburnThomas (Tom) Allen CoburnPension insolvency crisis only grows as Congress sits on its hands Paul Ryan should realize that federal earmarks are the currency of cronyism Republicans in Congress shouldn't try to bring back earmarks MORE (R-Okla.), took swipes at the presidential hopefuls.

The headline on Will’s column read, “Between Romney and Gingrich the choice is neither.”

Will called Romney “a conservative of convenience” and referred to Gingrich as “the least conservative candidate.” In October, Will compared Romney to Michael Dukakis (D).


He wrote that Gingrich “embodies the vanity and rapacity that make modern Washington repulsive.”

Coburn, a member of the House GOP class of 1994 that tried to overthrow Gingrich as Speaker, said on “Fox News Sunday,” “I’m not inclined to be a supporter of Newt Gingrich’s, having served under him for four years and experienced personally his leadership. … I found it lacking, oftentimes.” 

In the 2008 GOP primary, Coburn backed Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainManchin, Donnelly back Pompeo This week: Senate barrels toward showdown over Pompeo Romney forced into GOP primary for Utah Senate nomination MORE (Ariz.).

New York Rep. Pete King (R) last week told Capital, a New York publication, that Gingrich was “condescending … dismissive,” with a “superiority complex,” when he served with him in the lower chamber.

King added that “the problem was, over a period of time, he couldn’t stay focused. He was undisciplined. Too often, he made it about himself.”

Meanwhile, conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh has said Romney is “not conservative” and labeled him a “flip-flopper.”

Sen. Richard BurrRichard Mauze BurrSenators chart path forward on election security bill Overnight Cybersecurity: Staff changes upend White House cyber team | Trump sends cyber war strategy to Congress | CIA pick to get hearing in May | Malware hits Facebook accounts Senators express concerns over Haspel's 'destruction of evidence' MORE (R-N.C.) in April told The Hill, “He’s a guy of 1,000 ideas, and the attention span of a 1-year-old. His discipline and his attention to any individual thing is not his strong suit.”

Republican criticism of Mitt Romney 

“Romney is not a conservative. He’s not, folks. You can argue with me all day long, but he isn’t. What he has going for him is that he’s not Obama.” 

— Rush Limbaugh, October. Limbaugh previously called Romney a “flip-flopper”


“Mitt Romney is going to be the Republican nominee. And his general-election campaign will be an utter disaster for conservatives as he takes the GOP down with him and burns up what it means to be a conservative in the process. … Mitt Romney will be the nominee because the other candidates, right now, are a pretty pathetic lot.”

— Influential conservative blogger Erick Erickson, November


“He’s a little mushy on environmental issues.” 

— Sen. James InhofeJames (Jim) Mountain InhofeDems give muted praise to Pompeo-Kim meeting Overnight Energy: Former Pruitt aide alleges more wasteful spending, retaliation | Senate confirms EPA No. 2 | Zinke backs off big park fee increases Senate approves Trump’s pick for No. 2 at EPA MORE (R-Okla.), August. Inhofe has endorsed Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R).


“I’m hearing conservatives say, ‘You know what, I would rather lose to Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaAfter Dems stood against Pompeo, Senate’s confirmation process needs a revamp ‘Morning Joe’ host: Trump tweeting during Barbara Bush funeral ‘insulting’ to US Trump and Macron: Two loud presidents, in different ways MORE. I would rather give him four more years than elect Mitt Romney and have him spend money like President Bush and have another Republican who promises to be conservative go liberal.’ Conservative leaders this week, it’s like a light switch is going on, saying, ‘You know what, we would rather lose.’ ”

 — MSNBC host and former Rep. Joe 

Scarborough (R-Fla.), in November

Republican criticism of Newt Gingrich

“He’s a guy of 1,000 ideas, and the attention span of a 1-year-old. His discipline and his attention to any individual thing is not his strong suit.” 

—Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.), April


“I’m not inclined to be a supporter of Newt Gingrich’s, having served under him for four years and experienced personally his leadership. … I found it lacking, oftentimes.” 

— Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) on “Fox News Sunday,” December


“Gingrich embodies the vanity and rapacity that make modern Washington repulsive.” 

—  Columnist George Will, December


“This guy is not fit to be president of the United States.” 

— Scarborough, December


Ariel Katz contributed to this article.