A series of missteps continues to plague potential Republican presidential candidates, leaving the frontrunner status wide open.

A series of missteps continues to plague potential Republican presidential candidates, leaving the frontrunner status wide open.


Late last week Newt Gingrich lost the entire upper echelon of his presidential campaign staff in one fell swoop, as speculation abounded as to the reason for the sudden mass exodus.


Rumors circulated about the scandal-plagued presidential hopeful’s most-recent wife, Callista, being to blame for the strife, with sources saying she is too controlling — and the reason he embarked on a luxury cruise to the Greek Isles just weeks into his bid for his party’s nomination.


I suppose it isn’t surprising his wife would feel the need to keep such a tight leash on Gingrich, given his proclivity for cheating (and subsequently blaming it on his overwhelming “patriotism”). His desire to appear so in-step with his wife is equally understandable, if he hopes to redeem his character in the eyes of the conservative voters he’s currently courting.


I must admit, however, that I find it utterly baffling that either of the Gingriches thought abandoning the campaign trail for a vacation was a solid plan — especially in light of the fact that their destination was an exotic foreign locale that few Americans could even dream of affording.


And then there is Sarah Palin, the woman who has practically turned putting her foot into her mouth into an art form. On her not-a-campaign campaign tour — which she ironically claims is centered on the importance of learning “about our past and our challenges and victories throughout American history” — Palin made one of her worst gaffes to date (and that’s saying something).


When asked about Revolutionary War hero Paul Revere during a recent stop in Boston, Palin had this to say: “He who warned the British that they weren’t gonna be takin’ away our arms by ringing those bells, and makin’ sure as he’s riding his horse through town to send those warning shots and bells that we were going to be sure and we were going to be free, and we were going to be armed.”


Once again, Palin has her so-called “facts” wrong. First off, Revere did not set off to warn the British at all, nor did he fire warning shots or ring bells during his famous midnight ride. In actuality — according to historical accounts, including Revere’s own writing in an undated letter posted by the Massachusetts Historical Society — his mission was shrouded in secrecy.


The Paul Revere House’s website says that on April 18, 1775, Dr. Joseph Warren instructed Revere to ride to Lexington, Mass., to warn Samuel Adams and John Hancock that British troops were marching to arrest them. On the way to deliver his message to Adams and Hancock, Revere “alarmed” the countryside, stopping at each colonist’s house to spread the word trouble was coming.


Palin’s reference to the Second Amendment is also incorrect — the Constitution wouldn’t even be drafted for another decade, therefore there was no Second Amendment at that time.


It may be just me, but I believe someone who doesn’t even have as much knowledge as the average grade-school student is simply not qualified to be president. Yes, people misspeak or make mistakes from time to time, but when given a chance to admit she was wrong on Fox News — a network where she is a paid contributor, no less — Palin continued to insist she “didn’t mess up.”


Her supporters sprang to her defense, attempting to rewrite history by changing Revere’s Wikipedia page entry. Wikipedia quickly responded by removing the verbiage, stating “content not backed by a reliable sources.”


I have been asked, as a champion of women’s rights, why I am not more supportive of Palin. I always respond by saying that while I would love to see a woman become president of the United States, she must also be the right person for the job. When I cast my ballot in the voting booth, I don’t do it based on candidates’ gender, sexual orientation or race. Instead, I opt for the people whose political positions and views most match my own, and those whom I truly believe can help make this country better.


If the likes of Palin and Gingrich are the best the GOP has to offer in 2012, President Barack Obama’s chances of a winning second term seem all but certain. However, the big winners just may be the late-night comedians, who can look forward to at least two more years of ready-made punchlines.


Amy Gehrt may be reached at agehrt@pekin?times.com.