On CBS, Joe Klein Sneers Newt Is Doomed: He 'Cannot Stand Prosperity'

On Monday's Early Show, CBS's John Dickerson and Time's Joe Klein harped on Newt Gingrich's overwhelming "liabilities." Klein hinted that the former House Speaker's ego would get the better of him: "This is a guy who cannot stand prosperity....[He] cannot control his ego when he is riding high." Dickerson played up how Gingrich's "negatives were very, very high when he left Washington in the mid-'90s."

Fill-in anchor Jeff Glor asked the CBS political director, "What are the chances Newt Gingrich is the nominee?" Dickerson punted on making a prediction, but borrowed a line from colleague Jan Crawford, stating that "he has a great deal of baggage." When co-anchor Rebecca Jarvis followed up by asking about how the Obama reelection campaign saw the former Speaker, he raised the "likeability" issues with Newt:

DICKERSON: ...I think that Newt Gingrich has liabilities in a general election context. His negatives were very, very high when he left Washington in the mid-'90s. If you look at the [Des Moines] Register poll and you ask the question of likeability, he is very, very low on that question....He needs to improve his likeability number in a general election, when people have to think about, who do they want in their lives for four years. Newt Gingrich has a lot of work to do on that front, and this White House could take him on on that or a number of the things that he said that might slip by, but that, certainly, a White House with a great deal of money would make into a national issue.

Jarvis then turned to Klein and asked, "What's it going to take for Gingrich to hold on to Iowa going into the election?" The columnist replied by raising the ego issue:

KLEIN: Well, he's going to have to keep his head. This is a guy who cannot stand prosperity. I mean, within a day after the polls showed him ahead, he's already referring to himself as- in the royal 'we' and calling himself as Newt Gingrich. I mean, this is a guy who cannot control his ego when he is riding high. I've had this experience with him when he was named Speaker; I've seen it over the years.

The full transcript of the John Dickerson/Joe Klein segment on Monday's Early Show:

REBECCA JARVIS: As Jan [Crawford] mentioned, all of the candidates are going after Cain's supporters in Iowa, where the race has been wide open for months.

Joe Klein, Time Magazine Columnist; & John Dickerson, CBS News Political Director | NewsBusters.orgJEFF GLOR: Political director John Dickerson is in Des Moines, Iowa this morning. He joins us, along with Time magazine columnist Joe Klein, who wrote Time's cover story on Mitt Romney this week. Good morning to both of you-

JOE KLEIN, COLUMNIST, TIME: Good morning-

GLOR: Joe, the cover story's called, 'Why Doesn't Anybody Like Me?' (Klein laughs) Talking about Mitt Romney- at this point, zero to a hundred, what are the chances Mitt Romney is not the nominee?

KLEIN: Oh, I can't do that. (Jarvis and Glor laugh) I mean, really- look, we're- the campaign is just finally beginning now. Most people in Iowa are going to change their minds twice between now and January 3. It's really hard to predict these things. What we do know, though, is that the majority- the vast majority of Republicans, have been dissatisfied with Mitt Romney from the very start. He's been stuck at about 25%; he's getting lower now; and it's going to be difficult for him to get over the top.

[CBS News Graphic: "Race For 2012: Fight For Front Runner"]

GLOR: John, Joe won't bite, so let me ask you the opposite of that first question. (Jarvis laughs) What are the chances Newt Gingrich is the nominee?

JOHN DICKERSON: Well, I'm not going to bite either, Jeff. The- Joe taught me that. (Klein and Glor laugh) Gingrich is having- he's having his moment. He's having it at the right time because there's- you know, there's a month left between- before the Iowa caucuses, and he's running strong here in Iowa. And he has a great deal of baggage, as Jan mentioned in her piece, but people are forgiving him that, and a lot of that is a part of what Joe wrote about, because they just don't feel any strong love for Mitt Romney, and they like the fact that Newt Gingrich is giving them something to feel passionate about.

[CBS News Graphic: "Race For 2012: Gingrich Leading In Iowa Poll"]

JARVIS: Yeah. John, you bring up this point about Newt Gingrich giving them something to feel passionate about. Yesterday, on 'Face The Nation,' Robert Gibbs talked about the fact that the White House sees this man- Newt Gingrich- as for real, but do you think they see him as enough of a threat to point out- a plan going forward, that they could beat in an election head-to-head?

DICKERSON: Oh, yes. I think the White House- it's tough for them to play mischief in the Republican race, although they're certainly trying by attacking Mitt Romney. I think that Newt Gingrich has liabilities in a general election context. His negatives were very, very high when he left Washington in the mid-'90s. If you look at the [Des Moines] Register poll and you ask the question of likeability, he is very, very low on that question. It's one of the reasons he won't- he says he won't attack his opponents. He needs to improve his likeability number in a general election, when people have to think about, who do they want in their lives for four years. Newt Gingrich has a lot of work to do on that front, and this White House could take him on on that or a number of the things that he said that might slip by, but that, certainly, a White House with a great deal of money would make into a national issue.

[CBS News Graphic: "The Des Moines Register Poll, GOP Presidential Hopefuls: Gingrich, 25%; Paul, 18%; Rommey, 16%; Margin Of Error: +/- 4.9% Pts."]

JARVIS: You know, Joe, you mentioned all the flip-flopping that takes place- not just the candidates, but also in the polls, that happens before elections. What's it going to take for Gingrich to hold on to Iowa going into the election?


KLEIN: Well, he's going to have to keep his head. This is a guy who cannot stand prosperity. I mean, within a day after the polls showed him ahead, he's already referring to himself as- in the royal 'we' and calling himself as Newt Gingrich. I mean, this is a guy who cannot control his ego when he is riding high. I've had this experience with him when he was named Speaker; I've seen it over the years. There's- there are other candidates in this race. I mean, if you look at that poll, there's a guy in the middle, Ron Paul, who is running ahead of Romney in Iowa, and has two things that you need in Iowa. One is passion, and the other is an organization. You know, there are an awful lot of libertarian kids out there who are willing to, you know, drive buses on caucus night to bring in the Ron Paul vote-

JARVIS: Occupy Wall Street-

KLEIN: So, I mean, it's not impossible that Paul could win Iowa, but the other really important thing to know about the Republican race this time is that it isn't winner-take-all. You only get a proportion of the delegates that you win. And so, this could go on until June, I hate to tell you.

GLOR: Joe, quickly, how important is Herman Cain's endorsement?

KLEIN: Not that important- I mean, it might help Gingrich a bit. He's- I'm sure he is going to endorse Gingrich. They're, you know, long-time friends.

GLOR: And things- again, very quickly- get rough and tumble now between Romney and Gingrich?

KLEIN:  Probably, in the last few weeks, although I think that both of them understand that going after fellow Republicans in a hot primary usually is a kamikaze mission.

GLOR: Joe Klein from Time and John Dickerson, our political director- thanks to both of you.

Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan is a news analyst at Media Research Center