Newt Gingrich’s Tiffany Problem

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Newt Gingrich

Newt Gingrich has a problem.

It’s not that he bought expensive jewelry for his wife. Or that he did it on a revolving line of credit at Tiffany & Co., the diamond and bauble mecca of the Western World, which he paid off with zero interest.

It’s that this tale of a man buying a gift for his wife is being blown up and defined – and Gingrich is now letting it be defined – by those interested in perpetuating exaggerated political reporting: the political pundits and reporters (with a healthy dose of fringe bloggers and bigmouths) who are simply seeking out the appropriate quotes and soundbytes that prove their point, while Gingrich’s tempered comments take a back seat.

Disclaimer: this is NOT an endorsement of Gingrich for any office. This is about the PR spectacle he now finds himself caught up in and how it’s affecting his campaign.

Now, I’ve never bought $500,000 worth of anything (even though my wife has received plenty of “blue box” presents herself). And Gingrich is allowed to buy whatever he wants, however he wants. The fact that he took advantage of a zero-percent-interest line of credit and paid it off in full is no different than you or me walking into Best Buy and financing a TV. I don’t advocate buying on credit, but if you want to, it’s your business.

So what does Gingrich needs to do? How about cop to it and go with the joke?

For example: Gingrich could on late night talk shows (there’s one where he’s certain not to get any “cheated on my wife” jokes there) and confess: “You bet I bought a $200,000 diamond necklace! Now I have to write another book! I think this one will be co-authored with Dave Ramsey.” (For those who are unfamiliar, Mr. Ramsey is a brilliant radio and TV talk show host who counsels people on saving money, and abhors credit; the juxtaposition would resonate with middle income voters, who make up the bulk of Ramsey’s listening audience).

Making this one go away won’t be won by the typical Gingrich tenacity. And rhetorically musing whether any other politician has ever done something similar won’t work either.

And it’s a storyline with a definite end. But rebelling against the quickly solidifying opinion that his actions were out of touch with the common man won’t work.

When you get caught in a rip current at the beach, the only thing you can do is swim with it. Same rules apply here.

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