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.
Gingrich carefully navigates Cain exit
Iowa newspaper backs Romney
Candidates react to Cain campaign suspension
He's an intellectual challenged person's definition of a "smart man". He makes things up as he goes and sticks his chest out as if it's fact. Newton Leroy is what's wrong and has been wrong with out elected officials. Their only agenda is furthering their AGENDA.....GITRICH at the expense of Americans and their country. He's betting on the "dummies" that wasn't born or choose to forget WHO he is. He speaks OUT of the SIDE of his NECK, always.
There is the truth and what people think is the truth. We do have a 15 Trillion Dollar National Debt and someone has to understand that it has to be delt with. You can stick your head in the sand but it's still there. The Liberals and Democrats want you to forget it and spend like there is no tomorrow. The other problem is everyone is going to suffer/pay for it, like it or not. And the very people that all this spending is for are the ones that will suffer the most. Newt is trying to get a handle on the Debt. So you can stick your head in the sand or work to solve the problem. It's up to you. Already the Liberals are giving away the store with the payroll (Social Security Taxes) money. If someday down the road Congress says, sorry the money has run out, you will be left holding tha bag. What will you do??
According to another CNN article, whose accuracy I do not doubt, it was Gingrich's reforms while speaker of the House that got us in into this current fiscal mess by changing the emphasis in congress from forumulating laws to being party fund-raisers thereby polarizing the parties. Gingrich has done more to damage this country permanently than Osama Bin Laden and will continue to do so if given the chance. He is just another tool of the rich to maintain their power over the 99%. "Serial hypocrite" is an understatement.
Keith in Austin
If you are so great at math take out your pocket calculator and add up the two unfunded wars and tax gifts to the rich and tell us how much Obama would have spent if he didn't have to pay the Bush bills, because most people with high school math know that much of the spending was because of the path of destruction Bush and Republicans took.
none of GOP idiots are winnable...ok, they are for rich, corporate, oil idiots..not for middle class America...o.k,
He’s talking about something his own party has sworn not to do as long as Obama is in office. He is condemning the current Republicans in Congress.