Gingrich’s reformer, bipartisan approach as House leader
December 4th, 2011
12:20 PM ET
3 years ago

Gingrich’s reformer, bipartisan approach as House leader

New York (CNN) – GOP presidential candidate Newt Gingrich claims his record in Congress as “an aggressive reformer” presaged the tea party movement, though much of it came through the kind of compromise with Democrats that is currently unpopular with conservative primary voters.

“I think I represented the spirit of the tea party before there was a tea party,” the former House Speaker said Saturday, adding that he wouldn’t have been able to pass balanced budget legislation that led to reducing the deficit by $405 billion without the help of President Bill Clinton.

“But the fact is, if he hadn't signed it then it wouldn't have worked, and if I hadn't passed it, it wouldn't have worked, so it did take a bipartisan approach to get the country moving again,” said Gingrich.

Speaking to reporters before a town hall sponsored by the Staten Island Tea Party, Gingrich made no apologies for being what he called a “very strong leader” who often ended up pitted against Republican colleagues.

“I have been a very aggressive reformer. I have stepped on a lot of toes,” he said, adding: “One of the reasons I left Congress is I think, frankly, I burned out a number of Republicans because I pushed so hard for reform.”

Gingrich’s presidential competitors are trying to discredit the surging frontrunner by pointing out qualities that may be antithetical to conservative tea party activists.

Top rival Mitt Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, is casting the Gingrich who served in the House of Representatives for two decades as a “lifelong politician."

Texas Rep. Ron Paul calls the former House Speaker a “counterfeit conservative” and released a scathing web ad video last week that labels Gingrich a “serial” hypocrite and Washington insider.

Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachman’s South Carolina Tea Party Co-Chair Javan Browder recently said in a statement that unlike Gingrich and other candidates, Bachmann “hasn’t played the Washington-insider games to pad her own pocket,” alluding to the millions of dollars he earned from clients, including mortgage giant Freddie Mac.

Gingrich defended his record, saying that as a result of his leadership, “some congressmen who have petty interests and petty concerns and petty jurisdictions find themselves unhappy to have a genuine reformer.”

“I would rather be a real reformer and make the American people happy with me and have people in Washington be unhappy,” he said.

At the Fox Republican Presidential Forum hosted by Mike Huckabee Saturday evening, Gingrich warned of railing against longtime politicians who know what they’re doing.

Gingrich said, “You cannot get the scale of change we want, and you can’t get the scale of change the tea parties want, by just appointing good people who have no understanding of the fight they’re about to be in and have no understanding of how difficult and hard Washington is.”

Follow @ShepherdCNN on Twitter.


Also see:

Gingrich carefully navigates Cain exit

Iowa newspaper backs Romney


Candidates react to Cain campaign suspension


Filed under: 2012 • Congress • Newt Gingrich
soundoff (31 Responses)
  1. zip

    I am a lifelong Republican and conservative. If Newt Gingrich is the nominee, I will stay home.

    December 4, 2011 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  2. RINO Bil

    Gingrich is a good choice, but will the Tea Party work with him? Of course if he can get Republicans and Democrats to work together, he won't need the Tea Party. How sad would that be?

    December 4, 2011 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  3. ThinkAgain

    As reported by CNN and others (including statements on Newt's website), Gingrich has pledged to sign as many as 200 executive orders on his first day if he is elected president, accomplishing everything from abolishing a circuit court (the Ninth, which he considers "activist" because he doesn't like its rulings) to further tightening restrictions on federal funding for abortions.

    Gingrich is not a man who believes in representative democracy; he is a dictator and doesn't belong anywhere near the White House.

    December 4, 2011 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  4. We're not in Kansas anymore

    "adding that he wouldn’t have been able to pass balanced budget legislation that led to reducing the deficit by $405 billion without the help of President Bill Clinton"

    Yeah, Newt. It's easier to get things done when you have grown-ups in Congress too. We don't have that anymore, thanks to the 2010 elections. THAT is the difference.

    Another thing is, why isn't anyone holding Boehner accountable? Newt should know that Boehner has failed miserably at leading his pack into sanity, knocking heads if he had to. Newt has been there and should know this more than anyone else. Yet you don't hear a peep.

    December 4, 2011 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  5. ThinkAgain

    Gingrich is an arrogant philanderer (cheated on Wife #1 and Wife #2; Calista should keep on her toes) who probably would do pretty well on a history test, and that's about it.

    December 4, 2011 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  6. ThinkAgain

    Regarding the amount of money he made lobbying for Freddie and Fannie Mac public, Gingrich has said they will, "To the degree we can, sure."

    All they have to do is get the records from the accountant who prepared the taxes for Gingrich Group. Compare that figure to what was claimed as a payable by the accountant who prepared the taxes for Freddie Mac.

    This isn't rocket science, folks. It's MATH.

    December 4, 2011 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  7. Keith in Austin

    @ Think Again: If you're such a great mathematician, take out your pocket calculater and look at our National Debt Obozo has totaled up and how much more SPENDING he will do if re-elected!

    December 4, 2011 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  8. ThinkAgain

    Gingrich has said he wants to "eliminate the Left." You can't eliminate an ideology, because you can't stop people from thinking. The only way to "eliminate" an ideology is to eliminate all of its adherents.

    Makes me wonder what Newt's REAL long-term plan for our country is ...

    December 4, 2011 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  9. FRANK FROM LAS VEGAS

    Newt continues to revise history, I didn't realize that HE saved our country in the 90's, that without HIM this great country would not have survived!?!

    December 4, 2011 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  10. vic , nashville ,tn

    Bipartisan approach mean Government shutdown 1995 and 1996 ( which was the longest in U.S. history.)
    Newt Gingrich wants to teach history to kids but he forget his own history

    December 4, 2011 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  11. poopmeister

    Yeah, I had a high debt too going into this past year and due to the economy it only got higher. Why does everyone refer to Obama when talking about the debt. The debt was out of control when Obama got in. What was he suppose to do, take all the troops out of Iraq and Afghanistan the first year in office? Was he suppose to repeal the Bush era tax cuts right away? What did you want Obama to do; all the republicans can do is point fingers and give no solutions. No republican candidates are talking about the lobbyist and their influence and there's a reason for that. Until you take big business out of Washington, you will see nothing positive happen for the middle class.

    December 4, 2011 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  12. jim

    Newt would tear Obambi apart in a debate.

    December 4, 2011 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  13. Thomas

    Newt could rewrite history and make the Khmer Rouge look like a caring and compassionate regime .

    However , Newt was right to challenge Bill Clintons slow approach in using air power in the conflict in the Balkans War.
    Clinton was always slow in responding to genocide and ethnic conflict.

    December 4, 2011 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  14. Noodle Nose Johnson

    He's the architect of the current ideological vitriol in politics and should not be rewarded in any way. I remember your stint as Speaker very well Newtie, and it was a disaster. You'll never be President.

    December 4, 2011 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  15. Lee

    Feel the NEWTMENTUM!!!!

    Mitt Romney is toast. Mitt's ONLY reason to get the nomination was his "inevitability", but now that this is gone, there's nothing left other than an empty suit, magic under wear and perfectly coiffed and colored hair.

    December 4, 2011 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  16. informed voter

    I can't believe anyone would want this ethically challenged, morally bankrupt, life long politician and lobbyist anywhere near the executive branch (or any branch, for that matter) of our government. Gingrich is the poster boy for all that is wrong in politics, government and society. And Keith in Austin: it's President Obama, not some childish name you foolishly and ignorantly continue to use. Get used to it: President Obama, because with the useless bunch of nit wits that are being touted as the Republican's brightest and best, President Obama will be here for another term! Also in regards to the National Debt, don't forget: Bush kept his 2 wars and his Medicare Part D giveaway off the books. President Obama finally calculated those trillions into the budget, hence the huge jump in the deficit. One doesn't need a calculator to figure out that one, just a functioning brain.

    December 4, 2011 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  17. Gerry

    No mention of his ethics' violation in this article. Nor of his being forced out as Speaker of the House. Think he's changed? If so, I have a bridge to sell you.

    December 4, 2011 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  18. SecedingfromTexas

    So, he was a no- compromising tea party road paver before he became a compromising tea party road paver. Huh?
    Is that like "Any ad which quotes what I said on Sunday is a falsehood"? (His remarks re Paul Ryan Plan)
    This guy is good at one thing: Double talking out of both sides of his mouth, all while sucking up all the air in the room.
    I wouldn't want be there when his temper kicks in and he explodes.

    December 4, 2011 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  19. Anonymous

    Newt was considered one of the most conservatives Republicans in 1994. If time has tempered his ego, then he may be the best candidate for that party. At least he understands that compromise and leaving religion out of politcs is how things get done.Personally I still don't want him in office but then, I'm a Democrat.

    December 4, 2011 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  20. normajean @ verizon ,com

    This man paints quite a colorful picture of himself.....too bad he doesn't see himself as others see him. He needs to look in a mirror!!!........He never met the truth and has no integrity nor honor in his entire being. This man is a loser!!!!

    December 4, 2011 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  21. AlansK

    "18 Newt Gingrich Quotes That Disqualify Him From Ever Being President". Google it!

    Here's one example:

    “The idea that a congressman would be tainted by accepting money from private industry or private sources is essentially a socialist argument.” – Newt Gingrich

    December 4, 2011 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  22. Mary

    Does NO ONE REMEMBER THAT NEWT HAD TO RESIGN AS SPEAKER? And that he was nailed by the Ethics committee, and had to pay a $300,000 fine? I can't believe how everyone seems to overlook this – if someone had to resign as Speaker due to Ethics violations, why in the world would we want him as President? You Newt people need to go back and read the Whole Story regarding his days as speaker – and Newt needs to start prefacing his comments by saying "before I had to Resign as Speaker....". Jeez, how quickly we forget!!

    December 4, 2011 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  23. Ancient Texan

    Frank from LV- Without Gingrich and the GOP Congress, Bill Clinton would have been as big an economic disaster as Jimmy Carter and Barack Obama. The balanced budget agreement (not able to become admendment by 1 vote) worked and made Clinton look good in spite of himself.

    December 4, 2011 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  24. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    Bush added $5.5 trillion to our national debt, and to my understanding, that does not include the TARP bailout. All we ever got out of the Bush spending was two wars, big pharma payoff, tax cuts for those who did not need it, TARP. None of this ever helped the 99%.

    December 4, 2011 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  25. Annie, Atlanta

    Think Again – the only thing I could add is: is this the best the GOP could come up with, really?

    December 4, 2011 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
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