Early Saturday morning the Virginia GOP announced that Newt Gingrich didn't secure enough signatures to be placed on their Super Tuesday primary ballot. Newt wasn't alone in this. It turns out that most of the GOP field failed to do this, leaving Va. Republican voters with a choice between Mitt Romney and Ron Paul.
So what caused this problem? Well if you ask the commenters at Tea Party Nation, it turns out they have figured it out (registration required):
I never knew that President Obama and the unions had such power that they could actually go in and take over the Virginia GOP like that. Rather amazing if you ask me.
OK, let's step back from conspiracy land and look to see who is really to blame. Here's what Newt said in his statement:
“Only a failed system excludes four out of the six major candidates seeking access to the ballot. Voters deserve the right to vote for any top contender, especially leading candidates. We will work with the Republican Party of Virginia to pursue an aggressive write-in campaign to make sure that all the voters of Virginia are able to vote for the candidate of their choice.”
There's a couple of problems in Newt's statement. The first is that Virginia doesn't allow write-in candidates. You think someone who lives in Virginia would know that, but that's not as troubling as Newt comparing this "failed system" to the attack on Pearl Harbor:
Newt Gingrich’s campaign director said the candidate is viewing the setback in Virginia, in which he failed to collect enough signatures to qualify for the state’s primary, as an “unexpected setback” similar to the attack on Pearl Harbor.
“Newt and I agreed that the analogy is December 1941,” campaign director Michael Krull wrote on the Gingrich Facebook page. “We have experienced an unexpected set-back, but we will re-group and re-focus with increased determination, commitment and positive action. Throughout the next months there will be ups and downs; there will be successes and failures; there will be easy victories and difficult days - but in the end we will stand victorious.”
Because Newt not being on the ballot in Virginia is the same as the loss of 2,402 American lives.
But by Newt comparing this decision to that of Pearl Harbor would also insinuate that it was some sort of surprise. The problem with that is Newt knew he was in trouble early last week and even took a rather drastic step:
With the Iowa caucuses less than two weeks away and New Hampshire and South Carolina primaries right behind them, Newt Gingrich is bound for---Virginia.
Gingrich will campaign in the state Wednesday and Thursday, even though its GOP presidential primary isn’t until March. And therein lies the problem.
The former House speaker has been struggling to amass enough signatures to get on the Virginia ballot before Thursday’s deadline. He needs 10,000—and at least 400 from every congressional district. It’s not a small state, as anyone who’s ever driven from Washington, D.C., to Bristol can tell you.
Canvassing started in Virginia on July 1st. As someone who has done canvassing in the past I can tell you that voters are generally very open to signing the petitions, even if it's a candidate they don't support. It's hard to believe that in almost five months a presidential campaign couldn't get the 10,000 signatures needed, well unless they just didn't worry about it until the last minute. Perhaps that's what cost Newt - a lack of organization. That doesn't speak well for someone wanting to become President.
There's also something else that did come into play here though. Virginia started a new policy this year of verifying each signature's address against their registered voting address. If that address wasn't the same then the signature was thrown out.
Sound familiar? Well it should. This is essentially a form of Voter ID, that thing the GOP has been pushing through in numerous states after retaking control last year. Actually this form of voter ID isn't as stringent as the actual laws either. You don't need to have a valid picture ID with the proper address on it, but rather just a signature and writing down your proper, registered address. I just wonder how many more signatures would have been stricken if actual voter ID laws were followed? Perhaps it would have turned into a ballot of one or even none.
The actual people to blame for all of this is Newt and the very rules the GOP has been trying to push into law, though I'm sure we won't see the actual cause of the problems receiving the blame. We can expect to hear a bunch more of this spin as the news cycle awakens from it's holiday slumber and starts looking into what happened. As matter of fact, I wouldn't be shocked if by the end of the week Fox News has figured out a way to blame all of this on ACORN. That's just how the party that preaches about "responsibility" rolls - never taking responsibility for their own inactions.