Gingrich defends food stamp comment
January 6th, 2012
05:12 PM ET
2 years ago

Gingrich defends food stamp comment

Newport, New Hampshire (CNN) – GOP presidential candidate Newt Gingrich is standing by a recent statement interpreted as racially insensitive prompting reaction from a major civil rights organization.

"And so I'm prepared, if the NAACP invites me, I'll go to their convention to talk about why the African-American community should demand paychecks and not be satisfied with food stamps," Gingrich said Thursday.

- Follow the Ticker on Twitter: @PoliticalTicker

The NAACP, responding to reports about the line in the speech, said the former speaker's comment is "problematic on several fronts."

"It is a shame that the former Speaker feels that these types of inaccurate, divisive statements are in any way helpful to our country," said President and CEO Benjamin Todd Jealous in a written statement.

The quote in question came from a speech in Plymouth, New Hampshire when Gingrich was laying out his "food stamps versus paychecks" argument, a frequent topic on the stump when he talks about President Barack Obama's liberal policies and the need for change.

On the campaign trail Gingrich often argues that more people are on food stamps under the Obama administration and that he would pursue policies that get people back to work. He has previously labeled Obama a "food stamp president."

Jealous charged Gingrich of feeding a stereotype. "The majority of people using food stamps are not African-American, and most people using food stamps have a job," he said in the statement.

The former speaker believes his comment Thursday has been taken out of context.

"I think you would have to be nuts to read those two paragraphs and conclude anything except that I was saying that every young American deserves the right to pursue happiness. Every young American deserves a chance to have a job. Every neighborhood in America deserves a chance to have pay checks instead of food stamps," he said.

Gingrich added that this is another example of being labeled a racist for challenging government entitlements such as welfare, which he said he will continue pursuing "even if it makes liberals uncomfortable."

"And for the life of me I can't understand why having a conservative Republican who cares about young people having jobs should be seen as such a terrible idea or should be seen as somehow a racist characterization," he told reporters.

In addition to talking his food-stamp-vs.-paycheck argument on the stump, Gingrich often talks about speaking to the NAACP, as well as other groups, in an effort to reach out to all Americans.

Based on previous experience with Gingrich, the NAACP is not so convinced.

"We invited Speaker Gingrich to attend our annual convention several times when he was Speaker of the House, but he declined to join us," Jealous continued. "If he is invited again, I hope that he would come, with the intention to unite rather than divide."

The Gingrich campaign was unable to confirm or deny Jealous' assertion because they didn't have on hand the former speaker's schedule from the '90s.

- Follow Shawna Shepherd on Twitter: @ShepherdCNN

Also see:

Huntsman hits Romney ahead of N.H. primary


Boston Globe backs Huntsman


FIRST ON CNN: Santorum to make large ad buy in South Carolina

Santorum tangles with Gingrich, same-sex marriage supporters

McCain courting former South Carolina backers for Romney


Filed under: 2012 • New Hampshire • Newt Gingrich
soundoff (118 Responses)
  1. Dean

    vicki willis

    Why? This man can't keep his penis in his pants! Why should we can what this man says. We women have not forgotten what he did. But a cute want to be blond wife he has! Go home Newt

    But you loved Bill Clinton.

    January 7, 2012 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  2. ps

    we can call him the adulterer president

    January 7, 2012 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  3. Brian

    Let's not forget who created this massive increase of newly-poor, former middle class citizens...I remember Fall 2008 all too well. I will vote accordingly.

    January 7, 2012 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  4. Gingrich has gotta go.

    Unbelievable. Gingrich has absolutely no tact. His tongue could be VERY dangerous as he has little diplomacy. We don't need a guy this polarizing at the helm as we deal with other countries (or try to work across the aisle either).

    January 7, 2012 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  5. Debra From Georgia

    May I have some of the food stamps that us blacks folks are receiving, because I don't get any. Everybody I know work and they do not get food stamps. Most of the people I know are black people.

    January 7, 2012 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  6. GRS62

    "I think you would have to be nuts to read those two paragraphs and conclude anything except that I was saying that every young American deserves the right to pursue happiness. Every young American deserves a chance to have a job. Every neighborhood in America deserves a chance to have pay checks instead of food stamps,"
    That would have been a perfect alternative to the actual words Newt used. Slipping the African American part into the speech served it's purpose: to trigger his Republican base into thinking he's their guy. Gingrich is smart. Racist, but smart.

    January 7, 2012 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  7. ddb880

    What he said would apply to anyone, he can not hide his racism.

    January 7, 2012 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  8. Jose

    Ninety percent of black people are still slavs. Their Massa is Uncle Democrat.

    January 7, 2012 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  9. Delisle

    Okay, based on the data from "Characteristics of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Households: Fiscal Year 2010" and the US Census Bureau's "U.S. Census Bureau Guidance on the Presentation and Comparison of Race and Hispanic Origin Data" the numbers come out....... if you are white you are about 11% likely to be on foodstamps and if you're black you are 26% likely to be on food stamps. There's the numbers. Take it how you want.

    January 7, 2012 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  10. seriously???

    Too bad you won't win the nomination Newt. There isn't a more deserving man to lose by a massive, embarrassing landslide than you.

    January 7, 2012 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  11. jennifer

    "likely figures are not actual facts...its 24% white...11% black ..40% hispanic..and the rest asst.....

    January 7, 2012 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  12. Alan

    For once, I must say that I'm proud of these message boards. I'm glad people are calling Gingrich on his cynical race-baiting.

    January 7, 2012 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  13. Jamie

    Delisle, assuming your figures are correct and food stamp recipients for blacks and whites are 26% amd 11% respectively, who gets the other 63%?

    January 7, 2012 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  14. Denverdriver

    ""It is a shame that the former Speaker feels that these types of inaccurate, divisive statements are in any way helpful to our country," said President and CEO Benjamin Todd Jealous in a written statement." He doesn't feel these statements are helpful to the country. He feels that they will be helpful to HIM!

    January 7, 2012 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  15. SCStudent

    As stated by the 2010 US Census data, this country is made up of 72.4% of people who identify themselves as "white" and 12.6% of people who identify themselves as "black". If in fact the amount of "whites" and "blacks" receiving government assistance were "equal", one should expect to see these same percents in the breakdown. That is not the case. I am not a supporter of Newt Gingrich, but I abhor the misuse of statistics by those trying to prove a point. Yes, there are more whites than blacks receiving assistance, but the percents are vastly disproportionate to the actual population. Blacks have a higher risk of receiving government assistance. The interpretation and implications of this are left up to individuals.

    January 7, 2012 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  16. LoLo

    The Gop/TP party and their base have been hateful and devisive every since President Obama was sworn into office, They toss out signals in their speeches to divide the country. Newt and Santorium are their attack dogs and Romney is the puppet who will carry out their wishes, because why else would he keep flip=flopping to get their votes knowing darn well he is not accepted into the GOP/Tp party. The republican party are a disgrace to America. The voters need to send a really tough messge that we will not tolerate their malicious behavior against any American Citizen. Wake up people they are showing their true colors, the flags are up and do not ignore them.

    January 7, 2012 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  17. Myths

    Without increasing corporate taxes one iota, why don't CONServatives talk about corporations that don't pay federal taxes, or very wealthy individuals who use loopholes and tax shelters that only apply to them to reduce their fair share of taxes? The middle class and poor, no matter what race, have been hit so hard in the last 3 decades, income has not kept up with inflation and ordinary folk are losing ground every day, yet these numbskull Republicans focus on putting the squeeze on those who're already under tremendous pressure, particularly in the last 5 years. Unbelievable.

    January 7, 2012 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  18. antisophist

    For me, the election of 2012 is pretty simple. It is the party that most commonly looks out for the 1%, versus the party that most commonly looks out for the 99%

    January 7, 2012 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
1 2 3 4 5