I’m poaching Northwest Airlines’ airport wireless network at LaGuardia to post a quick report on last night’s Cooper Union event featuring Newt Gingrich and Mario Cuomo, moderated by Tim Russert. Yesterday’s New York Times set the stage for the event. Here are a few notes off the top of my head on the morning after.
*The setting was inspirational and magnificent. Cooper Union President George Campbell kicked off the event with an introduction that invoked the spirit of Abraham Lincoln and other speakers who had come to Cooper Union’s Great Hall to address the burning issues of the day in exemplary fashion. Lincoln historian Harold Holzer — the man who wrote the book on Lincoln’s Cooper Union speech that inspired last night’s event, followed up and did likewise.
*Newt was up to his usual form. He spoke without notes for 30 minutes but did not depart from his current script.
*Mario Cuomo dusted off the notes from his 1984 “tale of two cities” keynote speech at the Democratic Party’s San Francisco convention. I remember watching him give that speech in the hospital room where my wife was recoverning from the birth of our first daughter over 22 years ago. Cuomo indicted supply side economics, offered tax increases on the rich as the recipe for prosperity, lamented the growth of poverty and hardship on the middle class, and decried the administration’s reckless foreign policy. Suffice it to say that Cuomo’s walk down memory lane lacked the inspirational quality of Campbell’s and Holzer’s.
*The crowd was seeded with friends of Newt, but even discounting that factor, it was incredibly warm toward him. Speaking as a man of ideas, an agent of history and an elder statesman, Newt stands in a league by himself right now. I hope he dissuades himself from the temptation of thinking that his status supports a run for the Republican presidential nomination. He is more valuable doing what he is doing at present.
*At the close of the event, Tim Russert (I think) announced that Rudy Giuliani had accepted the invitation of the Cooper Union to follow up with a similar event in the future, as well as committing to a regime of nine debates with the Democratic presidential nominee between Labor Day and election day 2008.
*I sat with Tony Blankley, who could not have been more hospitable. He observed that the warmth of the crowd toward Newt is par for the course. He also expanded on his column yesterday on the unprecedented “technical” challenges of the extended election cycle that has commenced for 2008 presidential election candidates. Check out his column here.
*On the way out of the event NRO media blogger Stephen Spruiell introduced himself. Steve thought he would have something posted on the event today at NRO or at his NRO Media Blog. Look for it!
*I want off to meet my oldest daughter — now working in New York City — for dinner in Grenwich Village and tell her about the link between last night’s event and the time of her birth in July 1984. The San Francisco Democrats are back, but Jeane Kirkpatrick is no longer here to decry them. She is missed!
UPDATE by Paul: Here is Stephen Spruiell’s report on the event.
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