Gingrich under fire from Republicans over comments
May 17th, 2011
09:11 AM ET
2 years ago

Gingrich under fire from Republicans over comments

(CNN) – Newt Gingrich has been an official presidential candidate for only a week, but the former House Speaker is already under siege from fellow Republicans over recent comments that disparaged a House GOP budget proposal and appeared to endorse some form of a health care mandate that conservatives have long derided.

"This is a big deal," said Charles Krauthammer, the conservative Washington Post columnist. "He's done. He didn't have a big chance from the beginning but now it's over."

"I am not going to justify this. I'm not going to explain this," talk radio host Rush Limbaugh clamored. "The attack on Paul Ryan. The support for an individual mandate in health care? Folks, don't ask me to explain this. There is no explanation."

The uproar stems from Gingrich's comments during an interview on NBC's Meet the Press Sunday, when the former House Speaker called a Medicare provision in the GOP budget proposal spearheaded by Rep. Paul Ryan a "radical change" and later indicated he supports requiring every citizen to buy health insurance or instead post a bond for insurance.

The two positions appeared contradictory, with Gingrich hammering Ryan's plan to impulse a mandatory voucher system in lieu of Medicare in one breath while offering support for mandated health coverage in the other.

"What you want to have is a system where people voluntarily migrate to better outcomes, better solutions, better options, not one where you suddenly impose it," Gingrich said of the Ryan plan that has proposed replacing Medicare with vouchers to be used toward private health care plans. "I am against Obamacare imposing radical change, and I would be against a conservative imposing radical change."

But in the same interview Gingrich sad of an insurance mandate, "I agree that all of us have a responsibility to pay – help pay for health care…And, I think that there are ways to do it that make most libertarians relatively happy. I've said consistently we ought to have some requirement that you either have health insurance or you post a bond."

Amidst charges of inconsistency, Gingrich released a Web video Monday in which he emphatically stated he was "for the repeal for Obamacare, and …against any effort to impose a federal mandate on anyone because it is fundamentally wrong and I believe unconstitutional."

A Gingrich spokesman also insisted Monday that "there is little daylight between Ryan and Gingrich."

"Newt would fully support Ryan if it were not compulsory," spokesman Rick Tyler said. "We need to design a better system that people will voluntarily move to. That is a major difference in design but not substance."

Still, some conservatives remain befuddled when it comes to just where Gingrich stands on health care, an issue that is believe to be rival Mitt Romney's biggest vulnerability not the former House Speaker's.

"He can't help himself. Gingrich prefers extravagant lambasting when a mere distancing would do, and the over-arching theoretical construct to a mundane pander. He is drawn irresistibly to operatic overstatement – sometimes brilliant, always interesting, and occasionally downright absurd," Rich Lowry, the editor of the National Review, wrote Monday.

Meanwhile House Majority Whip Eric Cantor called Gingrich's statements a "tremendous misspeak."

"I think that many have said now he's finished," Cantor Chicago radio station WLS, according to The Hill. "I haven't had a chance to really dissect what in the world he's thinking...so I probably would reserve judgment on that."

Meanwhile, it appears Gingrich is doing damage control at an event in Mason City, Iowa Tuesday, signing a petition calling for the repeal of the health care law.

And, in an interview with the Des Moines Register Monday, Gingrich said he is the victim of "gotcha" politics.

"I've for two years gone around the country making speeches about ObamaCare. I've said over and over, 'We should repeal it,'" he said. "And then people to go from all of that body of evidence to say, 'Yeah, but for 25 seconds yesterday, I thought you said X,' that's beyond gotcha."

soundoff (97 Responses)
  1. Bob Dog

    What can be more delightful than cheap, self-serving, hypocritical slimebuckets fighting between each other!!!

    Wonderful entertainment!! Everyone wants to know the actual circumference of Newt's grotesque head.

    Fabulous. "Run, Newt, Run!!" Family values!

    I think Newt deserves four chances, not just three. I think he is going to start acting ethically.......starting now!!!!

    May 17, 2011 09:37 am at 9:37 am |
  2. Bill

    Bye-bye, Newt. Don't let the door hit your butt on the way out.

    May 17, 2011 09:37 am at 9:37 am |
  3. The Dude

    Newt Gingrich was for the individual mandate before he was against being in favor of those who support being against it. Right?

    May 17, 2011 09:38 am at 9:38 am |
  4. Rosslaw

    As an Obama supporter, I think that Gingrich has been doing a wonderful job and hope that he stays in the race. With Ronald McDonald and the Hillbilly from Hot Springs dropping out of the race, we are also in sore need of the political entertainment that only a "family values" guy like Gingrich can provide.

    May 17, 2011 09:39 am at 9:39 am |
  5. Bill Dusterwald

    How about some editing before publishing: "same interview Gingrich sad " he sad? or he SAID???

    May 17, 2011 09:39 am at 9:39 am |
  6. Tony

    The idea of individual mandate originated at the conservative Heritage Foundation in 1989. In 1993, as Hillary Clinton was working on a national health care plan with an employer mandate, Republicans twice introduced health care bills that contained an individual mandate. Advocates for those bills included prominent Republicans like Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Charles Grassley (R-IA), Robert Bennett (R-UT), and Christopher Bond (R-MO). In 2007, Democrats and Republicans introduced a bi-partisan bill containing the individual mandate.

    So Gingrich supports some form of an individual mandate. It was a Republican idea. What is the big deal?

    May 17, 2011 09:39 am at 9:39 am |
  7. paul

    He spoke what he truly believes, some type of mandate is necessary and the Ryan plan is radical

    May 17, 2011 09:40 am at 9:40 am |
  8. ChuckB

    Newt, if you say it, own it.

    May 17, 2011 09:43 am at 9:43 am |
  9. FatherofLies

    Heh, that didn't take long. Self immolation, pure and simple. Any chance he had has just spiraled down the toilet.

    May 17, 2011 09:43 am at 9:43 am |
  10. blf83

    When Newtie the Blowfish can't keep track of his positions or his wives (pun intended!) he has no creds.

    May 17, 2011 09:43 am at 9:43 am |
  11. lynn

    Oh goody, we get to see Romney try to squirm while explaining why his health care bill is good for MA, but not the U.S.

    May 17, 2011 09:44 am at 9:44 am |
  12. Angbalti

    If folks refuse to acquire health insurance then hospitals and doctors can refuse to treat them. As a society we need to make choices and try for some consistency. No one has a right to make someone else pay for their needs. If we don,t want to provide medical care for everyone then let the chips or people fall where they may.

    May 17, 2011 09:45 am at 9:45 am |
  13. SOUTHERN HOTTIE

    Who cares? Obama and Biden will be re-elected in 2012.

    May 17, 2011 09:45 am at 9:45 am |
  14. hank

    Gingrich is toast. His theoritical mumblings are non sense. He is a total flake. When he get to Iowa, he will not do well and that will probably finish the race for him. 3 wives and he lived with his mistress while Speaker-and people in Iowa will vote for him. No way.

    May 17, 2011 09:48 am at 9:48 am |
  15. Roman

    @Newt Gingrich posting above: awesome

    May 17, 2011 09:48 am at 9:48 am |
  16. Shannon

    Newt, along with the other family values candidates are done before they even get started. This Republican field is a joke.

    May 17, 2011 09:49 am at 9:49 am |
  17. Ernie

    Newt Gringrich is a man who leaps before he looks. He said that people should have to buy health care insurance or post bond. Is Newt Gringrich stupid by making this statement he is saying he is all for Obama Care. I have said before that Newt Grngrich doesn't have a chance to win the Republician nomination and with comment he is done. Newt is a man who is never wrong but everyone else is. Time has passed Newt by he is still thinking like he did when he was in congress and when he was "Speaker of the House". When Newt Gingerixh makes statements like has it show that he's not to intelligent and has nothing do with him self. Newt should go back to Georgia and teach American History like he did before, as a Presidental candidate it isn't going to happen.

    May 17, 2011 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  18. NVa Native

    All the political pundits love to fantasize how smart they say Gingerich is. He can't be that smart if everything he spouts is blatantly WRONG for Amerca's middle claas and small buisness owners, or further exposes his being a life long HYPOCRITE.

    May 17, 2011 09:51 am at 9:51 am |
  19. ldd

    The hate and racsim expressed in these comments against Obama is nothing short of disgusting. Didn't think warped minds like this still existed as much in this day and age. And would almost guarantee they hold themselves out as "Christians".

    May 17, 2011 09:51 am at 9:51 am |
  20. deb

    Limboats comment on Newt, "Stupid" and anti-American "AS Always. Newt has to be one of the most "Notorious" has-beens in American Politics? He is the Biggest Flip-Flop in history! The GOP lost its credebility during the 8 years of un-paid for wars,and WallStreet insider trading with our "Pensions",Lending Fraud by the banks,ect. When TP and Palin were born,you sealed your "Fate" in 2012! Trump also "Crushed your reputation. wow? If I were Boehner,"I,d Cry Too!!!

    May 17, 2011 09:51 am at 9:51 am |
  21. Ronald Dump

    Welcome to the "Demmocrat Party," Newt. Just like that, you and Schwarzenegger are under the bus.

    May 17, 2011 09:54 am at 9:54 am |
  22. Bill

    Goodbye, Newt. You lasted less than a week.

    May 17, 2011 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  23. Kevin

    It seems that all Newt does is make "mistakes" . I'm inclined to believe what he says in a candid interview, more than the backpedaling his writers, his party and Newt himself are doing today. He's long supported the individual mandate.

    May 17, 2011 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  24. Delores W

    Newt was a pathetic Speaker of the House and would have been a pathetic President. If this is the best the Republicans can do, we will have Obama for another term. I really don't think I can stand to see the fawning of the press for him too much longer. I would just like to see real, fair, honest, reporting of the President, the Cabinet, the House members, the Senate, instead of the Democrat version or the Republican version of who's doing what. Maybe Ryan? Maybe Pawlenty? Maybe the NJ governor? Maybe someone, somewhere has a brain and a degree in economics so he/she will have some vague idea on how to run the country and spend our money wisely instead of just throwing money around.

    May 17, 2011 09:57 am at 9:57 am |
  25. Sniffit

    "With Ronald McDonald and the Hillbilly from Hot Springs dropping out of the race, we are also in sore need of the political entertainment that only a "family values" guy like Gingrich can provide."

    Yeah, and now Boss Hogg is throwing all his considerable weight behind the President of the Lollipop Guild in Indiana. After what that little weasle helped Texas' Village Idiot do to the budget and his recent flip-flops on a "social policy truce" and signing a bill that screws up Indiana's Medicaid funding for women's services, he's also sure to provide hours of hilarious entertainment. He's certainly got the stature to be the GOP's Napolean in their War on Wombs (TM).

    May 17, 2011 09:57 am at 9:57 am |
1 2 3 4