What’s wrong with a presidential candidate being weird? For all the hubbub about Mitt Romney’s alleged weirdness last week, the GOP debate showed the virtues of having a weird candidate running. However, the weirdo on stage wasn’t Romney, who came across as rather normal for a person who has spent half a decade trying to be president, but Newt Gingrich, who aired his own eccentricities at the expense of ignoring conventional talking points.
While Gingrich went after the moderators for asking what he called “gotcha questions,” he also went off on his own personal crusades. Certainly, no other candidate advocated repealing Sarbanes-Oxley, implementing the Six Sigma management philosophy across the federal government, or the use of covert action by Egypt in Libya. And no other candidate on the stage made any historical reference at least a tenth as obscure as the Venona papers or the Kemp-Roth tax cut.
Gingrich’s campaign went off the rails because he wanted to do his own thing. His advisers urged him to raise money and go to every possible small town coffee shop in Iowa to court voters. Newt just wanted to spend more time talking about his ideas. This may not be the most efficient way to run a campaign, but it’s a welcome change. And when candidates stick to talking points and publish ghostwritten books about “Our Fight to Save America from Washington” or about how "It Takes a Family," Gingrich has a novel about the Civil War coming out in November. Gingrich adds a fresh perspective, which is important. He likely will not win the nomination and his campaign may not even make it to the Iowa Caucuses. But regardless of whether voters want him to win the nomination or not, they need his point of view in the debates. After all, if he doesn’t mention the Venona Papers, which other Republican candidate will?