Des Moines, Iowa (CNN) - Republican hopeful Newt Gingrich appeared to stand by his controversial stance against certain laws governing child labor Thursday saying his previous comments were "spun out of control" by "the left."
"Really poor children in really poor neighborhoods have no habits of working and have nobody around them who works," the former House speaker told an audience at the headquarters for Nationwide Insurance.
He then seemed to imply that a young, poor individual's only likely source of possible income would be from breaking the law.
"They have no habit of 'I do this and you give me cash'–unless it's illegal."
Gingrich added that most successful businesspeople he knows started work "early" and made some kind of money when they were kids, whether it was by babysitting or mowing lawns.
Almost two weeks ago Gingrich called laws preventing child labor "truly stupid" and suggested students take the jobs of many janitors.
"What if you paid them part time in the afternoon to sit in the clerical office and greet people as they came in? What if you paid them to work as the assistant librarian? And I'd pay them as early as is reasonable and practical," he said Thursday.
"Then we get down to the janitor thing," Gingrich continued, in reference to his previous comments. "(I received) letters written that said janitorial work is really hard and really dangerous and this and that. OK, fine. So what if they became assistant janitors and their job was to mop the floor and clean the bathroom. And you paid them."
Gingrich's comments on the issue came in response to a Nationwide Insurance employee's question in which he asked for some clarification from the candidate.
The Republican holds two more events in the Des Moines area Thursday.
"Gingrich is right. I've had a job since I was 12. Before I was 18 I was delivering newspapers, working in a candy store, and then waiting tables. The result: I learned the value of honest work and today I'm a self-made member of the top 5% thanks to the values I learned as a kid."
I have worked since I was 15 (at which point, ironically, I was a janitor at my school) I haven't been without a job since. I learned the same values of hard work as you did. However, I am a federal government employee who your man Newt wants to downsize and who his party wants to freeze the pay for. Not everyone is going to own their own business. Why should I have to have my pay and job, which I have worked hard for, cut because someone, somewhere has the incorrect notion that I do no work and should instead be out starting my own business?
It is time people grow some common sense.
Of course it is a good thing to instill a work ethic in children and rightly compensate / reward them for their hard work. Do you think a kid who has never worked a day in his / her life is going to graduate from college and suddenly know how to be productive in a work environment?
I have been working since I was 12 doing whatever I could find to do from cleaning office buildings to paper routes. Those jobs helped shape my work ethic and learn the value of money. When I was young I hated it that I had to wait until I was 16 to get a "real job".
I get that you folks want to tear Newt apart on anything and everything but pick your battles – he is absolutely right on this issue.
Sometimes (rarely) I find myself agreeing with the republican party on a few issues but comments like these make me realize just how truly racist they are. This entire remark is leveled at minorities (blacks especially). Mr. Gingrich needs to vist my family and find out we are not ALL on welfare. We have professional employment, pay taxes, have no criminal records and love God. It is really a disgrace he made these remarks although I have come to expect nothing less.
I think Newt is a lobbyist for the the U.S clothing firms overseas that are paying pennies a day for child labor and want the same over here.
Folks will get to know the Newt that got ousted BY HIS PEERS from Congress in 1998 when he held the 3rd highest office in our government. This is the tip of Newt. More to come, much more. Newt - "what a dumb person thinks a smart person is".
Yeah, why pay an adult a living wage and benefits from a full-time job where they have access to collective bargaining powers when it comes to getting fair compensation from their employer when you can pay a kid under the table at poverty wages in an unofficial manner so they can get hurt on the job and you can just deny you even know them when the doctor bill comes?