“I’m a little redder than when you saw me in Honolulu three days ago.”
Those were some of the first words out of Newt Gingrich’s mouth when he dropped by Borders Books & Music in Kahului on May 30, but is it actually possible he could be any more “red” than he was before arriving in Hawai‘i? Sure, he meant he’d turned boiled lobster-esque over the last three days of golf at Wailea’s Gold course, but really, when it comes to “red state” vs. “blue state” politics, Gingrich is positively scarlet.
He calls for God to be at the center of government; says English should be the official language of the government; hangs out with Sean Hannity and Oliver North. What’s redder than that?
Even Tom DeLay, the former U.S. House Majority Leader whose own book includes additions from Hannity and Limbaugh, a discussion about being born again and his spin on his own money laundering indictment says Gingrich’s “affairs” did more damage to the Republican Party than his own.
Perhaps. But could big-time Washington politico Gingrich, red as a tomato from playing too much golf but happy as a clam after being wined and dined by the Maui League of Republican Women, show up at Borders half an hour late and still impress the hell out of a 100-plus member crowd gathered in one of the bluest states in the union?
More than a hundred people crowded Borders to hear the unannounced 2008 presidential candidate speak about obscure World War II historical details, answer questions and sign his new alternative historical novel Pearl Harbor.
His message arrived in four parts: Maui’s a great place, President George W. Bush isn’t on the right track, buy my book and “real change requires real change.”
He meant change in government. At least, that’s what he said in his “21st Century Contract with America.” His proposed “real changes” include:
• More patriotic education for children
• New ways to compete with India and China
• “[R]eplacing bureaucratic public administration with Entrepreneurial Public Management”
• “[E]nsuring an election process that is honest, accountable, accurate, and free from the threat of illegal votes or subsequent litigation.”
Yet when one Borders audience member asked if campaign finance reform was a good idea, Gingrich responded that it was the McCain/Feingold finance reform laws that were the problem.
“Look at how much they need to launch Spider-man 3,” Gingrich said. “I’d argue that people should be able to donate any amount they want [to a political candidate]. People are spending 80 percent of their time running around raising money these days in $2,000 increments… Maybe if you can’t get people to give you money to support your ideas, you shouldn’t run.”
Gingrich spoke for about half an hour. Then everyone lined up for him to sign their fresh copies of Pearl Harbor. Joanne Kidnay of Lahaina was one of them. She’d even traveled to Honolulu to catch the big May 25 Freedom Rally Gingrich had visited.
“I loved it,” she told me. “It was Newt and Colonel North with Sean Hannity. It was fabulous.”
Kidnay dismissed news reports of protesters outside the rally. “There were several thousand people there and only about 70 protesters,” she said. In any case, she added, “how could anyone protest people fighting for America?”
Kidnay ended up buying 10 books for herself and other loved ones.
Later, Alaina Ibarra, Borders’ Inventory Manager, said Gingrich’s appearance was the best-attended book signing in her two-year tenure. In fact, she said she expected to sell out of every Gingrich book they had in stock. MTW