Gingrich under fire from Republicans over comments
May 17th, 2011
09:11 AM ET
3 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. TEE

    We must realize that Newt never intended to make a serious run for office, since he left office, his MO has always been to raise MONEY for himself to use for local & national repub races......Like Trump & Palin, it has always been about the money, he has never put the public interest first...

    May 17, 2011 10:02 am at 10:02 am |
  2. Shawn

    Newt Gingrich is a morally bankrupt, lying hypocrite who hasn't had an actual job in 15 years. No wonder he's running for the Republican nomination. They love that disgusting kind of person. He's perfect for them. America, however, will keep our awesome President and Republicans can keep Gingrich for themselves.

    May 17, 2011 10:02 am at 10:02 am |
  3. Mike Dallas

    Fried, baked or broiled, newt, the other white meat.

    May 17, 2011 10:03 am at 10:03 am |
  4. Shane Botwin

    I love watching Republicans knock each other off.

    May 17, 2011 10:03 am at 10:03 am |
  5. Once upon a horse

    @ bassman....
    did you hsppen to notice that Newt was being attacked by right wing Republicans??? Yeah I'm sure somebody like Rush Limbaugh really wants to protect President Obama.

    May 17, 2011 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
  6. Papasan

    The Right Wing Loonie APOLOGISTS are starting up the cry baby engine...

    Again!

    May 17, 2011 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
  7. Positive

    He can blow the racist dog-whistle and that doesn't make hime "done" with Republicans, but talk sensibly about people being responsible for their healthcare and he's outta' there? What a party!

    May 17, 2011 10:07 am at 10:07 am |
  8. Pat in IL

    It seems that Newt thinks his naysayers are just focused on the fact that he "had an affair". That's way over simplifying! His "affairs" (and one night stands) had big consequences for the people involved. He had ethics violations in congress, he doesn't have a clear platform, and never did, because he just says whatever the party line is at the time......and the list goes on. Aside from all that, he is arrogant and greedy, which is not a good qualification for a great leader.

    May 17, 2011 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  9. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    It is true what they say.
    Look how OPAQUE and dimwitted these GObP jokers appear to be agaist the BRILLIANCE of our current President!
    This whole 2012 race has turned devolved into highlighting how "C" students, posers, and underperfomers, should not try and match wits with the "A" students, the ones who have been putting in the hard work all along. These Johnny=come-lately wannabes think that based on the strength of their loud mouths, intimidation tactics, and the history of this country they deserve to be elected President against an incumbent who through sheer vision, intelligent input, and hard-work has saved not only an industry from total collapse, but indeed the nation itself.

    Obama 2012. Period.

    May 17, 2011 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  10. sonny chapman

    The REAL Repub. Kingmakers, Rush & Krauthammer , have spoken. It's over Newt.

    May 17, 2011 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  11. david mann

    Huckleberry, Donald duck, "I" of Newt, etc...Repugnicants are a very entertaining group. Can't wait to see what dopey thing is next.

    May 17, 2011 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  12. Newt

    So he goes against the bat crazy wingnuts and he is "done". I hope your not pinning your hopes on ROMNEY! A Mormon has about as much chance of winning as a Scientologist. Especially one that enacted "Romneycare", an almost exact copy of 'Obamacare" , and then tried to denounce it.......Change of subject.. How do you guys like all your family values leaders lately? Ensign? Schwarzenegger? scumbags....................

    May 17, 2011 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  13. Dave B

    The two smartest candidates the Republicans have say a health insurance mandate is the prerequisite for fixing healthcare. The other Pubs are tangled up in their blind anti-Obama strategy, on the wrong side of fixing healthcare, trying to appeal to the ignorant.

    May 17, 2011 10:13 am at 10:13 am |
  14. John Ellis

    And he's the best of the lot, the one Republican who has actually done something and who has a functioning brain. It is a pathetic pitiable party which has no future at all. If not for reflexively racist voters, it would have ceased to exist two years ago.

    May 17, 2011 10:13 am at 10:13 am |
  15. John/kc

    Newt and the rest of the republicans are toast. I sent an E-mail to my republican representative Lynn Jenkins expressing my sorrow in her voting in the House to kill Medicare. She sent back a letter saying tough. Out with ALL republicans. Killing Medicare and Medicaid while giving corporations, especially oil companies tax cuts while increasing the huge amounts paid to the military is insane. Do these people really think the American people want their ideas?

    May 17, 2011 10:14 am at 10:14 am |
  16. vbscript2

    Why can't we get Frist to run? He was actually a good leader and a very intelligent individual (literally a brain surgeon.)

    May 17, 2011 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  17. NVa Native

    eww... what is that nasty slimey little creature flipping and flopping down there in the dirt? Look closey and its a slimey newt with an odd sized square head. hahahahahah.........

    May 17, 2011 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  18. lucy2

    I don't like Newt or his ideas, and would never vote for him, but find it interesting that as soon as he says anything that's not following the party line exactly, the GOP attacks him. Guess there's no room for free thought or differing opinions, huh?
    These Republican contenders are a joke. Romney's the only one who might make any sense to elect, but the GOP is so anti-Obamacare (no matter what it says or does) that he's going to have a hard time because of his MA plan.

    May 17, 2011 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  19. Al-NY,NY

    Hannity and the rest of the complainers about the rapper conveniently forget Easy-E, the member of NWA that came to Duh Duh Duh-byas event

    May 17, 2011 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  20. Thankfully Independent

    I guess that there is absolutely no room for differing views in the Republican Tea Bag Party. They have certainly burried the legacy of Ronald Reagan and put a stake through its heart.

    This intolerance is the single-most reason I no longer support or contribute to the party. I have taken my VOTES elsewhere.

    May 17, 2011 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  21. oregonian101

    Newt is much more of a politician than the other GOP contenders. Although not immune to ideology, he would be more realistic. His time having to work with President Clinton to overcome political differences back in the 90s would serve him well if he were to become President.
    The GOP would be wise to listen to him. Sadly, the GOP has been so hijacked by the far right that anyone who sounds like a viable moderate will be shouted down by his/her own party.

    May 17, 2011 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  22. Allen

    I can't believe it, I’ve disagreed with 99% of what this guy has said over the last 20 years, yet now Newt actually said something I agree with...Paul Ryan’s Plan is radical and there needs to be an individual mandate to make people buy health insurance. I’m all confused now…does that make me a Democrat, an independent or a republican? And doesn’t that make President Obama right on healthcare reform?

    May 17, 2011 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  23. Me

    Gingrich is not a serious contender. He is just in it to live off his campaign conributions for a few months. He is also the front guy for a GOP candidate. He can spread the GOP message of hate and racism knowing that it will help a serous candidate in the eyes of the right wing nut jobs, without it actually coming out of the mouth of the final candidate.

    May 17, 2011 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  24. LegendRx

    GOTCHA! Now pass it on to the next republican in waiting.

    May 17, 2011 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  25. pnwJIM

    Bassman,read the article again! Its not the presidents people or the media [I don't count Rush as media] that is jumping on the NEWT.
    Its your own party. GOOD LUCK AND THANKS FOR THE SHOW REPUBS/T.P.ERS.

    May 17, 2011 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
1 2 3 4