Newt Gingrich's Neoconservatism May Be Hurting Him, Helping Ron Paul

December 19, 2011 2:12 pm ET — MJ Rosenberg

It turns out that being a neocon, gung-ho for war with Iran, is not exactly a selling point among Iowa Republicans.

In fact, according to Joe Klein in Time, it is a likely reason that Iran hawk and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich is slipping in the polls while Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX), who opposes military action in the Middle East, is on the rise.

Iowa Republicans are not neoconservatives. Ron Paul has gained ground after a debate in which his refusal to join the Iran warhawks was front and center. Indeed, in my travels around the country, I don't meet many neoconservatives outside of Washington and New York. It's one thing to just adore Israel, as the evangelical Christians do; it's another thing entirely to send American kids off to war, yet again, to fight for Israel's national security.

Paul's stance on Iran, which may be gaining him popularity in the country, is certainly not winning him any points among the establishment media (which is as hawkish on Iran as it was on Iraq). But many Americans, even Iowa Republicans, have learned from the Iraq catastrophe. And Newt Gingrich may find that in 2012, his neoconservative hawkishness is anything but an electoral plus.