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Say what you will about Newt Gingrich, but the man’s record includes the Herculean comeback of Republicans in 1994, thanks partly to the "Contract With America." That's why leading Republicans and GOP candidates are looking to Gingrich as the quarterback for the 2010 campaign. So what’s he advising them to do?
Vilify food stamps. Gingrich more than most people knows that Washington tends to lock itself in intensely wonkish policy squabbles—need one say more than "budget reconciliation"?—that simply don’t resonate with the rest of the country. So to make it simple, Gingrich and his political action committee are sending a "close the deal" memo to Republican candidates, spelling it out in über simple terms. What do you want more of: paychecks or food stamps?
It’s a bit out of left field. Most of the election cycle has centered on rich people and their tax cuts rather than poor people and their food-assistance programs. But there’s a very obvious reason why Gingrich wants to frame the issue this way: food-stamp usage has historically gone up with Democrats in office, and down when Republicans were in charge. Frame it like that, and it looks as though Dems are the welfare-state-loving socialists and Republicans are the patriotic capitalists.