The Washington Times - May 16, 2011, 05:01PM

As I posted previously, former Republican Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich is in a public relations struggle following critical remarks he made on NBC’s Meet the Press on Sunday about Wisconsin Republican Rep.Paul Ryan’s budget plan. Mr. Gingrich compared Mr. Ryan’s ideas on Medicare as similar to liberal Democratic policies. The former speaker called Mr. Ryan’s plan “right-wing social engineering.”  Mr. Ryan responded to Mr. Gingrich on Monday’s Laura Ingraham show, saying: “With allies like these, who needs the left?” 

Former Congressman Dick Armey, Texas Republican, told me on Monday that he was “shocked” to hear Mr. Gingrich’s criticism of Mr. Ryan’s plan, saying:

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“All public policy discourse in this country to date is carried out by Republicans that don’t dare and Democrats that don’t care, and the one shining exception was Paul Ryan.” Mr. Armey lauded the Wisconsin Republican for having a budget plan that specifically dealt with the third rail of medicare.

He added, “Ryan steps up and he’s got the only plan that really deals with this and Newt comes along and says what we need are mandates, and I’m thinking he’s out of step with kind of the energy core of this enormous grassroots movement on health care which is the idea that the government is making a mandate that we all must buy a product from.”

Mr. Armey, who now leads the D.C. based free market advocacy group, Freedom Works, said that Mr. Gingrich is is a masterful politician, however the former Texas Congressman notes, “He’s sure got a lot of ideas, but he’s never really stuck with an idea for very long.” 

This is hardly the first time Mr. Gingrich angered not just conservatives but Republicans at large. In 1997, as Speaker of the House, a number of Republican members met to discuss ousting him from his leadership position, CNN then reported. 

More recently, Mr. Gingrich has been criticized for changing his mind on issues like Libya and Cap and Trade. His 2009 initial support and later regret of his support for then New York liberal Republican congressional candidate (now a Democrat) Dede Scozzafava made many conservatives wonder where exactly Mr. Gingrich currently was in the political spectrum.

The former Speaker enraged conservatives fighting against the Democratic energy bill, when he appeared in a political ad with then Democratic Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi in 2008. 

In the day and age where conservatives are seeking out a GOP presidential candidate who will be straight forward and stick to their guns no matter how much the left may pressure them otherwise, Mr. Gingrich is offering a terribly tough sale. Unfortunately for Gingrich, he does not seem to even follow conventional wisdom that says candidates should look to endear themselves to the base of their party in the primaries and later talk to the party and public at large in the general. The question now is who is Mr. Gingrich really trying appeal to?

Mr. Gingrich appears confused as to who he is trying to impress in the 2012 GOP presidential primary and if it’s simply the media elite, he will have a tough time making it through the first few months of his campaign.