Gingrich offers rare praise of Obama on killing of al Qaeda cleric
September 30th, 2011
04:34 PM ET
3 years ago

Gingrich offers rare praise of Obama on killing of al Qaeda cleric

Ames, Iowa (CNN) - In a break from his anti-President Obama flame-throwing, Newt Gingrich used a campaign appearance Friday to offer rare public praise for the president on the killing of American-born al Qaeda cleric Anwar al-Awlaki.

"We're going to take out Al Qaeda, the way they just did it in Yemen, where I do give the president credit," Gingrich said at a town hall at Iowa State University on Friday.

"Any American, who actively advocates killing Americans, places themselves in our Constitution as a traitor," Gingrich added. "The American who the president authorized killing in Yemen was an enemy combatant. Enemy combatants don't get Miranda rights. I think it's very important that this is a war…the president, in this one area, is right."

Gingrich's comments echo fellow GOP candidates who put out written statements. Mitt Romney, former Massachusetts governor, also praised the president, "I commend the President, the members of the intelligence community, our service members, and our allies for their continued efforts to keep Americans safe."

Rep. Michele Bachmann lauded the killing but didn't note any presidential role, "I want to applaud and thank our men and women in uniform, and those who gather intelligence, for their brave and sacrificial work."

Meanwhile, though Gingrich's presidential praise was indeed substantial – it was also brief. Just moments before, he accused the Obama administration of secretly being anti-military.

Those words came in response to a question from a military service member in the audience who said the recently lifted ban on gays serving openly in the military will have a corrosive impact on unit cohesion.

"Can that Genie be put back in the bottle?" the questioner asked Gingrich.

"You can certainly reverse the president's position on social engineering in the military," Gingrich responded. The wording was similar to a slam he previously made against a fellow Republican, House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan. In May, following Ryan's controversial budget proposal, Gingrich called it "right-wing social engineering," - words he later walked back after a mountain of conservative criticism.

At the town hall, Gingrich continued his White House slam.

"This is an administration of extraordinary anti-military prejudice which just hides it," he said.

Gingrich went on to criticize one option under consideration by the Obama administration to potentially reduce U.S. troops in Iraq to 3,000. Currently, over 40,000 troops are in that country.

"I am totally opposed to 3,000 troops being left in Iraq," Gingrich said. The former House Speaker claimed the remaining U.S. troops wouldn't be able to adequately defend themselves against Iran who "have every vested interest in killing us."

"3,000 is a political number," Gingrich said.

Meanwhile, Gingrich explained one noteworthy political intention.

Saying that national security gets short shrift in the current presidential campaign landscape, Gingrich said: "I'm going to propose to the other candidates, that we have three or four debates – only on national security – and only allow [military] Generals to be the questioners, no news media. So we have a serious national security debate."

Follow Shannon Travis on Twitter: @ShanTravisCNN


Filed under: Newt Gingrich • President Obama • Terrorism
soundoff (55 Responses)
  1. V in Chicago

    This guy just changes his stance depending on the flavor of the day. The fact that his sole purpose in life is to bring down the sitting President says all about him I need to know. What ever happened to working together? Besides, he is so out of touch with the real world and real people he could not possible do this country any good – only harm!

    September 30, 2011 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  2. Indy

    Newt stated earlier that he only has one opponent and it is Obama, and by that statement he forgets he has a couple hundred million middle class voters that are also his opponents. To beat Obama Newt is going to have to defeat the middle class and the smart money is on the middle class and Obama.

    September 30, 2011 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  3. Indy

    Rep. Michele Bachmann lauded the killing but didn't note any presidential role, "I want to applaud and thank our men and women in uniform, and those who gather intelligence, for their brave and sacrificial work."

    And with this statement from Bachmann we know she is 100% not qualified for any elected office in the United States of America

    September 30, 2011 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  4. The Real Tom Paine

    When Gingrich is the first candidate to congratulate Obama, you know we live in strange times.

    September 30, 2011 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  5. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    Newt's campaign has been a disaster. I think that tomorrow, he will walk back his anti terrorist claims, condemn Obama for his tough stance against terrorism and join the ranks of nutty Ron Paul.

    September 30, 2011 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  6. Lynda/Minnesota

    "I'm going to propose to the other candidates, that we have three or four debates – only on national security – and only allow [military] Generals to be the questioners, no news media. So we have a serious national security debate."

    And I'm going to propose they all say HELL NO.

    September 30, 2011 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  7. JC Money

    I like the NS debate idea with just Military participants. Bachman needs to get a clue...

    September 30, 2011 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  8. NYC REPUB

    Obama has ate the GOPs lunch as far as national security goes......Obama 2012!!!!!

    September 30, 2011 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  9. Squealy

    Woah! Don't you go all crazy there now, Newtie!

    September 30, 2011 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  10. w l jones

    A General once told me if have not did the job under fire you are unexperience so for officer only to ask question to none military person it would be a wasting there time. Sorry but true.

    September 30, 2011 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  11. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    Haven't heard anything from Mittens. I'll bet he is so afraid to say anything, because he has been soundly rejected by the republican party for 17 years.

    September 30, 2011 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  12. thomas

    What is it with Newt and all the rest of the GOP , Neocon , Teabag , nut jobs. First they jump into two ten year wars , saying we will be respected as liberators. Then they run the economy off the Cliff , saying it's sound. They promote moving jobs
    overseas , then complain about taxes.

    Newt , your a lobyest , get a real job !

    September 30, 2011 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  13. diridi

    I told long time ago, I love this President. He is not only smart, he is "Timely". I know he does great for Poor, Middle Class Americans. I still vote for him. Yesterday, I ran into an idiot, who told me He has been in office for three years, still Blame Bush. I kept quiet, thinking that He is a total "RedNeck". Even If I explain, I can not understand, more so, He came to fight, I had to Ignore that Idiot. I am voting for Obama2012. In fact, I am voting "Direct Dem. Ticket". I never did, but I do in 2012. I still say, Bush's mess Reagan Mess, takes some time to clean. I know Banks need to be watched. Now.

    September 30, 2011 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  14. YOU Decide 2012: A bankrupt socialist welfare country or a thriving capitalist super power

    A General once told me if have not did the job under fire you are unexperience so for officer only to ask question to none military person it would be a wasting there time. Sorry but true.
    =================================================================================================
    Translator please!!!!

    September 30, 2011 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  15. AZ DEM

    The GOP has no room to criticize the president's foreign policy he has done an exemplary job maintaining our position as leader around the world. There is a such thing as American exceptionalism and Obama is this exception in living color.

    September 30, 2011 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  16. YOU Decide 2012: A bankrupt socialist welfare country or a thriving capitalist super power

    I'd LOVE to see Newt debate Obama. He'd destroy him in 30 minutes. He'd show the country juts how empty Obama's suit truly is.

    September 30, 2011 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  17. Ben Dover

    Well at least Newt had a brief moment of thinking clearly....This however will not last very long...He is a Republican!!!

    September 30, 2011 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |
  18. tony

    In a perfect world, the assassination would be wrong, But since we don't...

    September 30, 2011 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
  19. bill

    Diridi, you sound like obama without his teleprompter.

    September 30, 2011 05:58 pm at 5:58 pm |
  20. Gemini Girl

    I'd LOVE to see Newt debate Obama. He'd destroy him in 30 minutes. He'd show the country juts how empty Obama's suit truly is.
    -----–
    -----–
    If that is true, it's only because Newtie has been running for president like forever!! And he is a career lobbyist, been getting fundraising $ forever too. I think the government should investigate Newt. I am sure there are shady things going on around him. The Tiffany kerfuffle is the least of his worries....

    September 30, 2011 06:01 pm at 6:01 pm |
  21. NVa Native

    Obama would stomp Gingerich in any debate on any forum! And that goes for pretty much ANY GOPtee-bagger.

    September 30, 2011 06:08 pm at 6:08 pm |
  22. Ralphe

    Now if in 2012 a Republican becomes President, s/he can target Democrats for assassination and use this as a precedent.

    September 30, 2011 06:20 pm at 6:20 pm |
  23. RINO Bil

    Too bad Newt's Tea Republican cohorts don't support President Obama's efforts to rid the world of those who would do the U.S. harm. I guess for them, Patriotism is partisan.

    September 30, 2011 06:33 pm at 6:33 pm |
  24. Woman In California

    You can say whatever you want but I feel much safer with Obama than I EVER did with W (the disco man) remember the red light, orange light, yellow light, etc.? It might be premature to say this but it's true. At least the thinks BEFORE he acts. Not so much with the Bush madness.

    September 30, 2011 06:44 pm at 6:44 pm |
  25. Woman In California

    Look at him TRYING to look intelligent.

    September 30, 2011 06:44 pm at 6:44 pm |
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