Last week on the Trail Watch, we discussed Newt Gingrich's recent rise in the polls, as well as the new level of scrutiny he's facing, particularly over his relationship with mortgage giant Freddie Mac. He's also in trouble for ties to a healthcare group that played a role in supporting portions of President Obama's healthcare legislation, which is vehemently opposed by those on the right.
Now Gingrich's election campaign has added a new page to its website to respond to the allegations, Newt.org/answers. It's a page taken from President Obama's campaigning playbook. His team introduced the Fight The Smears website during the 2008 campaign to debunk rumors such as him being a Muslim and the future first lady's use of the term "whitey." Team Obama has upgraded to the more aggressive "Attack Watch" for the re-election round.
The reentry to political life from private consulting tends to drag up such issues as those working in lobbying, public affairs shops, and think tanks know. It also shows the reckoning that many candidates with a long political resume face as the media and other astute observers dig into past statements, votes, and speeches.
It's that catch-22 candidates face, which we've noted before here on Trail Watch: without experience as an elected official you're rapped for your inexperience; with a deep Washington history or high-profile state appointment (Romney, Perry), you're bound to be picked apart on past decisions. As an individual American and even as a CEO, you're allowed to change your mind. You don't want to be seen as indecisive but to change your mind is often viewed as progressive and mature, part of your growth as a leader. Not so in politics. That's not to say I don't recognize that many have tried to play both sides of the fence, particularly when it comes to private sector fees, but it's interesting to note the differing standard we hold politicians to, particularly those on the trail.