Gingrich offers rare praise of Obama on killing of al Qaeda cleric
September 30th, 2011
04:34 PM ET
7 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. Bill in Florida

    "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"

    Really? So tell me: How many terrorists/dictators has Newt killed/removed from power vs. Obama? In Obama's corner, we have Osama bin Ladem, Muammar Ghadaffi, Anwar Awlaki, et al. In Newt's corner, we have .... absolutely NOBODY>

    Obama' has been President for 32 months. Newty has seen the White House only from a distance.

    I would SO LOVE to see Obama debate/destroy Newry. But since Newty's campaign is going nowhere, he won't be the GOP nominee.

    September 30, 2011 07:20 pm at 7:20 pm |
  2. Lost in Texas FOREVER

    well looks like Michelle Bachmann did a "Sarah Palin" giving props to the military without mentioning the president's name. Yet if it's something they think he did wrong she can't stop saying Obama. One thing a lot of right wingers know how to do is what we call "spin" and people like Bachmann and Palin do it very well.

    September 30, 2011 07:20 pm at 7:20 pm |
  3. T'sah from Virginia

    ►He'd show the country juts how empty Obama's suit truly is.◄

    Translation Please...

    I know I make lots of typos and sometimes when I read back what I have written it sounds like Greek to me but my message is still there. I wish sometimes you have an option of "deleting" your post and correcting but CNN does not allow that. I kind of knew what w j jones was talking about!!

    September 30, 2011 07:31 pm at 7:31 pm |
  4. T'sah from Virginia

    @ YOU Decide 2012 – Newt is filled with "sound bites" and "quick quotes" and his sarcasm is not appreciated by the majority. He would look like a FOOL if – and that's not going to happen – he ever gest a chance to debate President Obama!!

    Obama/Biden 2012!!

    September 30, 2011 07:34 pm at 7:34 pm |
  5. hongli

    I'm yet to hear a word from big mouth Sarah Palin and pathological liar Michelle Bachmann about the killing of Anwar al-Awlaki . I wonder what side they are going to take. We know by now what that idiot Paul thinks. Any how-- Thank you Mr President for killing the terrorists and keeping America safe.

    September 30, 2011 07:40 pm at 7:40 pm |
  6. Kweg Yung

    Corporate America continues its expansion into China; where socialized healthcare and socialized education are the norm. Bush's “tax cuts for the rich” policy continues to help fund this transition. (When was the last time you saw a job created in the U.S.?) These former American companies only pay tax in China, supporting a growing communist government and military. The Republican party represents the rich corporations- and these corporations are moving to China. These guys aren't batting for us (U.S.) anymore. The writing is on the wall. Just open your eyes...

    September 30, 2011 08:21 pm at 8:21 pm |
  7. ThinkAgain

    Yesterday Newtzi said that, if elected President, he would sign hundred of executive orders in the first few hours of his presidency, to "dramatically interpret its execution and shift its effect" of legislation.

    Folks, you do realize that Newtzi promised he would replace our representative government with a dictatorship, right?

    September 30, 2011 08:43 pm at 8:43 pm |
  8. thomas

    @ YOU Decide 2012: A bankrupt socialist welfare country or a thriving capitalist super power

    I don't think Newt could fit in Obama's suit , nor you in Obama's shoes !

    When you find the WMD's in Iraq , report back to us !
    Newt / Tiffanys 2013

    September 30, 2011 09:18 pm at 9:18 pm |
  9. barry

    I dont really care for Obama as a President but as Commander in Chief he rocks. He is a killing machine when it comes to Muslim extremist.

    September 30, 2011 09:38 pm at 9:38 pm |
  10. Eduardo

    Ok. REPUBLICANS and tea parties, why dont you accept that the president is cleaning a big mess created BY your "great party" he IS PROTECTING the Country. Finaly a REPUBLICAN give crédit to our presidente, a credit he really deserve. It IS time for all NATION to PRESS ON to the congress.

    September 30, 2011 09:46 pm at 9:46 pm |
  11. Dee

    I am shocked Newt praised the President it was the right thing to do he knows this President has been a force with National Security and has been successful in eliminating a lot of terrorist.

    Ron Paul is another issue before they make broad statements that this should not have happened it is good that they are not prevy to National Seurity information and you can believe the President thought this out clearly before he signed the order. Please give him credit where credit is due.

    September 30, 2011 10:30 pm at 10:30 pm |
  12. MikeH

    The Newt-loving poster who starts by the name "YOU DECIDE" is a paid liar for Newt Gingrich. And no one lies so much as "Mr. Pathological Liar" himself, Newt Gingrich.

    So, "YOU DECIDE", how much, per lying post, do you get paid? Are you paid with a weekly stipend for posting your lies?

    You may have noticed that Newt doesn't fare very well in Ticker posts, like 90+% of the posters rip Newt a new anal orifrice. So why waste your time here "YOU DECIDE"? Why don't you go play "World of Warcraft" and leave this site to smart people.

    September 30, 2011 10:30 pm at 10:30 pm |
  13. ja

    the naysayers need to stfu, newt is correct only the second time recently, Anwar was playing with fire, play with fire get burned, American born or not

    September 30, 2011 10:58 pm at 10:58 pm |
  14. Robrob

    Wow, Newt actually put country over party. I'm surprised.

    September 30, 2011 11:19 pm at 11:19 pm |
  15. Romy Monteyro

    This happened in Obama's watch, that's all! I'm not at all sure if reports like these are pleasing to his ears! But whether someone's heart in DC breaks each time we get a terrorist, our brave military, God protect them all, will continue to waste those animals one by one! Like President Reagan said after our planes bombed Khaddafi's house, "you can run but you can't hide."

    September 30, 2011 11:55 pm at 11:55 pm |
  16. usindian

    Where are those who claimed that President Bush kept us safe in spite of the fact that 9/11 happened on his watch?
    Bush also missed opportunities to capture OBL.

    Obama not only kept us safe but also killed OBL and and this guy. These were the most charismatic Al-Queda leaders most capable of prolonging the life of the terror organization. I am sure this will not matter to those who simply hate Obama.

    October 1, 2011 12:36 am at 12:36 am |
  17. Republicans Are The American Taliban

    Major blow to Al Qaeda!! The last major blow the Republicans ever achieved was in an airport restroom.

    October 1, 2011 01:06 am at 1:06 am |
  18. T'sah from Virginia

    Oops, you see – a typo – it's not "gest" a chance.... it's "gets a chance."

    October 1, 2011 01:11 am at 1:11 am |
  19. bluemax77

    No wonder, Gingrich wouldn’t have got it done...

    October 1, 2011 02:45 am at 2:45 am |
  20. fernace

    Obama is a calm, fair, hardworking adult! Gingrich is a loud mouth,wishy washy, boy playing at manhood! Bring on that debate & lets see whos suit is empty!!

    October 1, 2011 05:12 am at 5:12 am |
  21. Squigman

    A large pocket of gas, surrounded by an even larger mass of blubber.

    October 1, 2011 06:08 am at 6:08 am |
  22. ugh part 2

    "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."

    I thought the government of Iraq was going to decide their troop needs (US Forces), and that we are now in the process of pulling out of this money pit.

    October 1, 2011 08:00 am at 8:00 am |
  23. wgf

    Wait... a Republican acknowledged that Obama did something right ? The Inquisition will begin shortly.

    I actually give Newt credit here. We really have to be able to acknowledge when someone from the other party does something that is successful and benefits the country. Otherwise, it's all just dumbshow.

    BTW... Does everyone remember the great Republican fear campaign of 2008 ? It went something like this: "If Obama gets elected the terrorists are going to kill us." "Obama is a Muslim [wrong !!!] and Muslims are terrorists." "Obama pals around with terrorists." Just saying.

    October 1, 2011 08:02 am at 8:02 am |
  24. lgny

    A national security debate with no press and only generals present.... Isn't that just a military briefing.

    The good thing about the debates is that it allows us to hear the complete statements of each candidate instead of sanitized sound bytes that clip out the gaffes or mistakes. It allows us to see how quickly they think on their feet and respond to an unusual question.

    October 1, 2011 08:40 am at 8:40 am |

    Newt is really finished now. He broke the wingnut lockstep.

    October 1, 2011 08:51 am at 8:51 am |
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