Republican presidential candidate, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich listens at left, as his wife Callista introduces him during a campaign stop at Hood College in Frederick, Md., Monday, April 2, 2012. (AP Photo/Ann Heisenfelt)
You have to feel just a little sad for Callista Gingrich. When she began having an affair with Newt Gingrich, he was House minority leader and on his way to becoming Speaker. He later told his soon-to-be-ex-wife Marianne that Callista would “help me become president.” And, remarkably enough, there was a moment or two in recent months where that seemed possible. Gingrich surged to the top of the national polls in early December, and he won a dramatic victory in the South Carolina primary. Callista, a former Congressional staffer, has surely entertained a few daydreams of being first lady.
Not anymore. On Tuesday afternoon Callista Gingrich appeared at the Republican Women’s Club in New York, an imposing gray, seven-story townhouse across the street from Rockefeller Center. The venue was impressive, but the event was not. The entire press delegation consisted of a producer from ABC News and a two-person team from a Chinese television station. The club apparently struggled to pull together its attendance of roughly sixty people. (One attendee told me she was called by the club and asked to come.)
The demographics didn’t augur well for the future of the GOP. The average age at the luncheon tables appeared to be around 75. I counted more women in pearl necklaces, more women in purple suits and more women with platinum blonde dyed hair (including Gingrich on all counts), than women who aren’t white.
Not a single woman I interviewed—of those who would let me, they were surprisingly hostile and generally unwilling to divulge basic information, such as their names—intends to vote for Newt Gingrich in New York’s upcoming primary.
You might expect this to be a depressing event for Gingrich for other reasons as well. The Republican war on women has severely damaged the GOP’s brand among women. Consequently, were the election held today women voters would provide Obama with his margin of victory, and a healthy one at that.
So you would expect the Republican Women’s Club to be a pretty demoralized crowd, right? Wrong. The table closest to me boisterously toasted the GOP and joked that President Obama had better start working on his presidential library.
When I asked about their party’s unpopularity among women and the reasons for it, I was met with nothing more than blinkered partisan denial. Some people simply denied the math of recent polls showing that Romney’s advantage among men is outweighed by Obama’s far greater advantage among women. For example, a lawyer told me she isn’t worried about Republicans doing poorly among women because “historically, for whatever reasons, Republicans have appealed to men more and Democrats to women.” Others simply denied the numbers, saying it all depends on which polls you look at.