'Not Going Negative,' the Most Meaningless Campaign Pledge

Just as Newt Gingrich was rising to his spot as the nearly prohibitive favorite to win the Republican presidential nomination, he made a pledge not to "go negative" on his political opponents. Or, in cocksure Newt-speak: "They're not going to be the nominee. I don't have to go around and point out the inconsistencies of people who aren't going to be the nominee. They're not going to be the nominee." But guess who's pointing out his opponents' "inconsistencies today, and always, very negatively? This is the worst pledge ever.

Newt Gingrich is not the first presidential candidate to pretend to try this "I'll be nice" thing to win over the mild-mannered old people of Iowa. Mike Huckabee made this same pledge in the run-up to the last Iowa caucuses. But then a couple of days before caucusing commenced, he held a press conference to say, again, he wouldn't go negative, but he would show this group of reporters the very negative ad he chose not to air, to prove that it existed, and he had decided not to run it. It was a nice trick for someone who wanted to run a negative ad but couldn't afford television time.

And now Gingrich, who was knowingly lying when he said he wouldn't go negative, because he's Newt Gingrich, had this eerily not-positive thing to say about Mitt Romney this morning:

The fatal moment came after Gingrich was asked by reporters whether he should return some of his reported $1.6 million in consulting fees from housing giant Freddie Mac in light of the 2008 subprime mortgage collapse.

"I would just say that if Gov. Romney would like to give back all of the money he's earned from bankrupting companies and laying off employees over his years at Bain, that I would be glad to listen to him," Gingrich told reporters in New Hampshire after a town hall. "I'll bet you $10, not $10,000, that he won't take the offer," he continued.

Great! Now let's officially ditch the niceties and have these two throw grenades and knives and cancer juice at each other. "Won't go negative." Ugh stop it. Stop! Stop being untenable! Look: I wasn't able to catch Saturday's Iowa debate live, and when I went to ABC News for the recap, this was the hysterical list of featured videos that greeted me:

  • Rommney, Gingrich Take First Jabs
  • Gingrich Slams Romney Over Run Against Ted Kennedy
  • Bachmann's 'Newt/Romney' Rant
  • Romney Offers Perry $10,000 Bet
  • Perry, Santorum on Infidelity
  • Gingrich Responds to Infidelity Question
  • Ron Paul on Newt Gingrich's 'Hypocrisy'
  • Perry on Cheating: Gingrich Responds

The better pledge would be to promise to say something positive, just once.

[Image via AP]