Bob Dole Could Never Understand What Newt Gingrich Was Doing With That Bucket

"Fifteen years from now, I'm going to destroy you." Photo: J. DAVID AKE/AFP/Getty Images

As the GOP Establishment grudgingly coalesces around Mitt Romney, Bob Dole, a Romney endorser, has released a statement detailing all the reasons Newt Gingrich was a bad Speaker, would be a terrible president, and is basically just a crazy, rotten human being in every way. If Bob Dole was granted the ability to murder one person in the entire world and not be held accountable for it, we're guessing it would be Gingrich. The best line:

Newt would show up at the campaign headquarters with an empty bucket in his hand — that was a symbol of some sort for him — and I never did know what he was doing or why he was doing it, and I’m not certain he knew either.

While that anecdote does make Gingrich sound like an insane subway moleperson, there is actually a very simple explanation, as the National Review's Yuval Levin explains:

It’s true that Newt Gingrich used to go around with an empty ice bucket in 1996. It was a symbol of his efforts to cut congressional perks and costs. For decades prior to 1995, every congressional office would receive a daily delivery of ice from a central freezer on the Capitol grounds. It was a holdover from the days before easy refrigeration, and it made for a nice demonstration of the sort of silly and costly perks that members of Congress received. When he became Speaker, Gingrich ended the practice and (in large part because that meant eliminating several staff positions) saved some $400,000 a year. Gingrich liked to use the ice bucket as a metaphor for Democratic governance: expensive, wasteful, and out-of-date.

This is probably something Dole should have known, or at least tried to figure out (Google?) before passing it off as a bewildering, indecipherable Gingrich quirk. Or maybe Dole is just pro-ice waste, Gingrich's spokesman, R.C. Hammond, suggests:

“They were still — under Bob Dole’s leadership, mind you — delivering a block of ice every day to Congressional offices like it was the 1800s,” he told TPM. “Newt said that’s a dumb idea and we should stop. Bob Dole thinks cutting spending is a very weird thing.”

New campaign issue: Where does Mitt Romney stand on ice? Thank God there's another debate tonight.