MANCHESTER, NH — Ron Paul’s about to “get on the mother-ship and go back to the mother planet,” Rick Perry’s going nowhere unless it’s to “hang around the shooting range,” and Jon Huntsman clearly loves the Chinese so much he “should move to China.”
So says former New York gubernatorial candidate and current Newt Gingrich supporter Carl Paladino.
I met the former tea party favorite lurking behind the bar at Don Quixote’s Mexican restaurant here in Manchester, as Gingrich delivered a lengthy, impassioned pitch to Latino voters about comprehensive immigration reform.
Still, passionate though Gingrich was, Paladino got somewhat distracted at times.
“What is that you’re wolfing down?” he said after a plate of lukewarm quesadillas arrived in front of me. “It’s disgusting, what is this shit?”
This is how Paladino, the proudly crude upstate New Yorker who improbably won the GOP nomination in 2010 en route to being blown out by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, makes friends on the road. He’s in town to lend his support to Gingrich, whom he says he has long supported but only backed publicly about a month ago when he discovered to his horror that the New York Republican establishment was lining up behind Mitt Romney.
“I thought it was absolutely stupid,” he said. “It’s not the will of the rank and file Republicans, the rank and file want change, they don’t want any more plastic Republican leadership that keeps eating at the trough like all the rest of these bureaucrats we’ve put there in the past.”
He has no love for the rest of the GOP field, who he says will soon melt away in favor of Newt.
“As we narrow the candidates there’s Newt because all the rest of them are toast,” he said. “Ron Paul’s going to get on the mother-ship and go back to the mother planet. You got Huntsman, he’s going to go live in China. Perry wants a job, he’s going to go the shooting range and hang around there awhile. I mean this is nonsense — it’s all bullshit.”
Huntsman in particular rubbed him the wrong way by speaking Chinese on stage in the previous debate.
“‘Oh, the Chinese are so strong,’ what the fuck is wrong with these people?” he said. “He should move to China.”
That’s not to say he doesn’t like the cut of Newt’s jib. According to Paladino, Gingrich is “intelligent, he’s got institutional history, he understands what happens in the past, he puts things into perspective, he’s candid, he’s transparent, he has nothing to hide, he’ll tell you if he doesn’t like something.”
“And he can cry, too, and I think that’s a sign of strength,” he added. “You know, he got emotional thinking about his mom, just like Boehner, he gets emotional thinking abut the hardship his parents went through in raising him. I think that’s awesome.”
Conservatives have criticized Gingrich for backing Dede Scozzafava in a 2009 special election in Paladino’s state of New York over an insurgent Conservative Party candidate Doug Hoffman. The race became a disaster for the GOP as Scozzafava dropped out, endorsed the Democrat, who ended up winning the conservative-leaning seat. But Paladino says it’s old news.
“Listen, do you have any flaws? Did you ever fuck up?” he said. “Let’s stop the nonsense.”
Benjy Sarlin is a reporter for Talking Points Memo and co-writes the campaign blog, TPM2012. He previously reported for The Daily Beast/Newsweek as their Washington Correspondent and covered local politics for the New York Sun.