WORLDmag.com editor Mickey McLean prodded me for thoughts on Marianne's bombshell and the last four standing. OK, here goes.
I hardly know Marianne Gingrich, but I did have lunch with her in 1995 and liked her. I also liked her ex-husband and had more dealings with him. Newt liked a book I wrote in 1990, The Tragedy of American Compassion, and as speaker of the House was telling people to read it. I'm still grateful to him for that and tried to reciprocate by being helpful to him in 1995 and 1996. When Newt's associates were telling me in 1996 to stand clear of him, I did not.
In 2007 I also tried to be helpful by telling Newt that he has a great calling as an idea-generator and should not blow it by trying to be something he's not suited to be, the president of the United States. After I interviewed lots of people who had worked with him very closely, we had a cover headline, "DON'T RUN, NEWT." The question this time around is whether he's changed.
It's a good question: People do change as their beliefs change. The ups and downs of Newt's campaign so far, though, have shown more continuity with the past than change. And I do have to laugh at one of the lines in a pro-Newt commercial: "He stood up to Bill Clinton." By Newt's own admission, he did not, and I'm still wondering why Democrats who knew about Newt's affair as early as 1995 did not go public with it.
As for the other candidates, I've interviewed Rick Santorum three times, had dinner with him, and shadowed him for a whole day of his Senate activities in 2005. He's smart, decent, compassionate, and energetic. I like him and think he would be a good president. He'd lose some moderate votes but could pull some blue-collar votes from Democrats. I'm not smart enough to know how this all would work out electorally.
I don't know Mitt Romney. Since I grew up in Massachusetts I'm not alarmed if as governor he functioned as a "Massachusetts moderate"-that's a big step up from typical Bay State liberalism. I don't know whether he's so much of a politician that he responds more to his constituency than "a man of principle" would, but if he did act that way as president we'd have a generally conservative administration.
I like Ron Paul's gutsiness and agree with his position on abortion and some of his economic and defense beliefs. He's right that just passing laws on abortion won't do it, and that family life and morality need to change. (I've written a couple of books on the history of abortion: Abortion Rites: A Social History of Abortion in America and The Press and Abortion: 1838-1988.) And yes, we need to reduce the federal budget radically, and bringing troops home from Germany and lots of other places would help.
I'm also not smart enough to know what we should do regarding Iran, but I know that our choice is between something bad and something worse. (Our Iraq choice was similar.) Overall, my slogan regarding these presidential primaries is partly "We report, you decide," but it's more "We report, God decides."