Newt Gingrich just blasted out an email, reprinted here, and several things jumped out at me:
First, Newt is wrapping himself in the banner of a conservative movement based on ideas by invoking both Reagan and Goldwater. He says, "This may be the most important CPAC since Ronald Reagan helped launch the annual gathering in 1975", and "I just read Ambassador Bill Middendorf’s A Glorious Disaster: Barry Goldwater’s campaign and the Origins of the Conservative Movement (read my review here), and he reminded me of the ferocity of the 1964 Lyndon Johnson campaign."
Second, Newt is collecting contact information and communicating with attendees throughout the convention:
What is the Winning the Future Text Message Challenge? It’s a chance for College Republicans, state delegations, Facebook groups — anyone attending CPAC — to go head-to-head to see who knows the most about the ideas and principles that have shaped the conservative movement.
To register your team, click here. Be certain to fill out all the required fields, and you’ll receive instructions on Thursday, the first day of CPAC.
In other words, Newt is going to be communicating about ideas to the attendees of the convention. But not just in his Saturday night speech, well after the straw poll closes, but throughout, starting when people register (and vote in the straw poll). I bet Newt is trying to win it.
Third, he is attacking the electability argument:
Running as a bland, business-as-usual Republican will be a dead loser. In 2006, the American people repudiated the GOP, because the idea of Republicans’ trying to manage the liberal welfare state they inherited from the Democrats was a dead loser.
The line about "trying to manage the liberal welfare state" is particularly devastating to Romney, I think. And:
Focusing on an anti-Hillary campaign will also be a dead loser. The Clintons are the most determined and intense politicians of our lifetime.
I think that Newt is trying to ride CPAC into a draft movement. Something similar to what Sam Brownback tried to do with the March for Life.