Steve Gillon: How Newt Gingrich, the Ultimate Washington Insider, Plays the Part of Outsider

Roundup: Historians' Take

Gillon is the author of “The Pact: Bill Clinton, Newt Gingrich and the Rivalry that Defined a Generation.”

As we approach the critical Florida Republican primary, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich has stepped up his attacks on rival Mitt Romney, criticizing the former Massachusetts governor for being too timid and too moderate — and styling himself in contrast as an anti-establishment warrior.

The party establishment has fired back — dredging up reams of old opposition research on Gingrich. Former Sen. Bob Dole, whom Gingrich once dismissed as “the tax collector for the welfare state,” has joined the chorus of party leaders bitterly lambasting Gingrich.

For anyone who knows Gingrich’s history, this fight is both predictable and absurd. Predictable because Gingrich has, throughout his career, always seen and styled himself as a Republican insurgent. Absurd because the very same man has spent decades as the consummate Washington power player.

He talks like an economic populist, but he has a half-million dollar credit line at Tiffany’s. He channels Tea Party-style cultural resentment against “the elites” — yet he’s the veteran Washington hand running against a man who’s spent most of his career in the private sector....

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