When Newt Gingrich said he would not vote for rival candidate Ron Paul if Paul wins the Republican presidential nomination, Gingrich may have forfeited whatever support he might receive from a sizable number of conservative and libertarian voters if the former Speaker of the House is himself the nominee.
Gingrich answered with and unqualified "No," when asked if he would vote for Paul if the 12-term Texas congressman were to emerge as the party's standard-bearer. "I think Ron Paul's views are totally outside the mainstream of virtually every decent American," Gingrich said Tuesday on CNN's The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer. By its very nature the comment appears to impugn not only Paul, but his legions of supporters as well. The people who support Ron Paul share his views on most or all of the issues the candidate has been espousing in this and in previous campaigns. If those views are "outside the mainstream of virtually every decent American," then the unavoidable implication of Gingrich's statement is that "virtually" everyone who holds such views is not a "decent American." Should Gingrich emerge from the primary battles as the nominee, even those Paul supporters who hold the former speaker in "minimum high regard" might be loath to support the nominee who has, in effect, called them indecent.
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Photo: Republican presidential candidates, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, left, and Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, arrive for a Republican presidential debate in Sioux City, Iowa, Dec. 15, 2011: AP Images