Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich stepped into controversy Christmas weekend as he compared his exclusion from the Virginia primary ballot to the Japanese attack at Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941.
“Newt and I agreed that the analogy is December 1941: We have experienced an unexpected setback, but we will re-group and re-focus with increased determination, commitment and positive action,” Campaign Director Michael Krull wrote on Gingrich’s official Facebook page on Saturday.
Offering what appeared to be an FDR-inspired rallying cry, Krull continued: “Throughout the next months there will be ups and downs; there will be successes and failures; there will be easy victories and difficult days -- but in the end, we will stand victorious.”
The attack on Pearl Harbor, which killed more than 2,300 Americans and led to the United States entry into World War II, may not be very analogous to some.
For one, Pearl Harbor was a surprise attack. Gingrich has known for months about the Dec. 22 deadline to file. Secondly, Pearl Harbor was extremely deadly while failing to qualify in Virginia doesn’t quite carry the same consequence.
“If the comparison doesn't automatically make sense … and you have to explain your comparison, then you probably shouldn't have made that comparison in the first place,” said former White House Press Secretary and Fox News contributor Dana Perino.
The Republican Party of Virginia announced early Saturday that Gingrich would not be on the state’s March 6 primary ballot after he failed to gain the required 10,000 signatures, including 400 from each of the state’s 11 congressional districts.
Gingrich’s campaign initially responded in a written statement that "only a failed system excludes four out of the six major candidates seeking access to the ballot" and it would “pursue an aggressive write-in campaign.”
Virginia law forbids write-in candidates in primary elections.
Gingrich wasn't the only one who didn't make the cut onto the Republican presidential primary ballot. Rick Perry didn't qualify while Michele Bachmann, Rick Santorum and Jon Huntsman did not submit signatures. Mitt Romney and Ron Paul are on the official vote sheet.
Unlike the others, however, Gingrich, who represented Georgia as U.S. House speaker and it is generally considered his home state, and his wife Callista are currently Virginia residents.
Karl Rove, former President George W. Bush's senior adviser and a Fox News contributor, criticized Gingrich’s campaign for missing the filing deadline.
"This is a problem if you're the frontrunner and you can't organize your campaign so that you can meet these filing deadlines. It's elemental, it's the fundamental thing you do."
This isn’t Gingrich’s first time using the attack on Pearl Harbor in a controversial manner.
In December 2010, the self-proclaimed historian and author tweeted: "The 69th anniversary of the Japanese attack is a good time to remind folks of our novels ‘Pearl Harbor’ and ‘Days of Infamy.’ Newt.” The tweet was later deleted.
President Obama won Virginia and its 13 electoral votes in the 2008 presidential election. But with Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell earning strong approval numbers and November legislative election bringing the state Senate into parity, the Dominion State is considered up for grabs in 2012.