McCain blasts Gingrich on earmarks and leadership
January 25th, 2012
03:14 PM ET
2 years ago

McCain blasts Gingrich on earmarks and leadership

Washington (CNN) – Sen. John McCain tore into Newt Gingrich Wednesday, accusing the former House Speaker of encouraging an explosion of earmarks that ultimately led to corruption in congress and for having a leadership style that would be problematic as president.

"I saw these earmarks explode. I saw the corruption that resulted from it," the former Republican presidential nominee said on a conference call with reporters organized by Mitt Romney's campaign. McCain endorsed Romney after the Iowa caucuses.

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McCain said earmarks "dramatically expanded on Newt Gingrich's watch," and cited a memo he said Gingrich wrote in 1996 directing lawmakers in charge of spending decisions to "consider elections" when doling out earmarks.

The former GOP presidential nominee has long been a critic of earmarks, money lawmakers direct to their home districts and states. McCain attacked former Senator Rick Santorum on the same issue when he became a threat to Romney earlier this month.

Though McCain said earmarks doubled on Gingrich's watch, he said he did not know off hand of any egregious pet projects Gingrich himself got for his constituents.

Steve Ellis with Taxpayers for Common Sense says it's hard to track that down, since lawmakers were not required to disclose their earmarks until 2007, long after Gingrich left Congress.

In Gingrich's defense, his campaign pointed to an independent analysis showing that during at least one of the four years he was speaker the number of earmarks dropped.

McCain's criticism of Gingrich was hardly limited to spending. He said publicly what many of Gingrich's former colleagues have told CNN privately over the past week – that Gingrich's leadership troubles as speaker mean he would be a bad choice for GOP presidential nominee.

"The fact is he was a failed speaker and was not sent back. He could not have been re elected as Speaker of the House and his leadership style was a major factor in giving him lack of support for re-election as speaker," said McCain.

McCain said he will be campaigning with Romney in Florida starting Friday though the weekend, after hitting the trail with Romney in New Hampshire and South Carolina before contests in those states earlier this month.

He revived one of his old jokes from his own 2008 presidential campaign, that when he was a "young, single naval aviator" in Florida he "contributed as much as I could to the local economy."
Four years ago Florida was the scene of the bloodiest battle between McCain and Romney when they were then competing against each other to be the 2008 GOP presidential nominee.

McCain went after Romney back then as someone who is too liberal and inconsistent to be the Republicans' pick for president.

"I think we should really give Gov. Romney credit…he is consistent. He has consistently taken both sides of any major issue, he has consistently flip-flopped on every issue," McCain said almost exactly four years ago, at a campaign stop in Jacksonville, Florida on January 28, 2008.

Now McCain argues Romney is the best person for these times, given the troubled economy and joblessness in America.

Still, McCain's differences with Romney were still on display during the call that was intended to be on Romney's behalf. McCain went after the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision, which critics say led to the flood of money into this year's campaign via so-called Super PACS.

That decision eviscerated the campaign finance law McCain sponsored with Russ Feingold, one of the Arizona senator's signature issues.

At a recent debate, Romney attacked the McCain Feingold campaign finance law.

When asked about that on Wednesday's call with reporters, McCain tried to brush it off, saying the two will never agree on every issue, but said Romney is the best candidate to lead on what voters care most about this year, "jobs, the economy and national security."

Also see:

New Freddie Mac contract prohibits 'lobbying activities'

Romney resets image with postcards from the edge

Gingrich gets major help


Filed under: 2012 • John McCain • Mitt Romney • Newt Gingrich
soundoff (14 Responses)
  1. Thomas

    Somebody needs to write a book on dinosaurs and cannibalism.

    January 25, 2012 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  2. Myth Romney is soo Plastic and FAKE he makes Callista Gingrinch looks REAL

    old McNASTY is baaaaack!!!!

    January 25, 2012 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  3. Bill

    I suggest that Sen. McCain focus on his day job. He is not running for president again is he? An addled buffoon who needs to retire.

    January 25, 2012 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  4. The Real Tom Paine

    Gingrich and Tom Delay gave each member of the Class of '94 a booklet to be left on their desks, filled with the names of contributors. The idea was to say to lobbyists, " If you want anything passed, give money so you can appear in teh next edition of this book". The earmarks were an extension of that. Gingrich is, without a doubt, one of the most corrupt men ever to walk in Congress, and its especially hypocritical in light of the fact he brought down Jim Wright on ethics charges related to things Gingrich himself was accused of years later.

    January 25, 2012 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  5. Blandwater

    Haven't we heard enough from McCain already? He lost any credibility when he selected that mediocre buffoon for his running mate last time around - putting the country at potential risk just fulfill his own ambitions. He needs to retire... he's done.

    January 25, 2012 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  6. Switters

    Not only is McCain a 'loser' – he has backed a loser – at least in the GOP nomination process

    January 25, 2012 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  7. Mary

    Will the real Newt Gingrich please stand up! Oh, wait. I meant, will the real Mitt Romney please stand up. Oh, wait.

    Is this really what Republicans have as a choice? It appears so. It also appears that Gingrich will win in Florida. After that, it's off to little caucus states where Ron Paul is already setting up shop and will be well organized. After that, it's Super Tuesday with all the Southern states. Newt country. I just don't see how, if Romney loses Florida, how he can rebound/recover.

    Their worst nightmare may come true (and potentially the country's).

    Unbelieavable events shaping up.

    January 25, 2012 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  8. vic , nashville ,tn

    Its getting better

    January 25, 2012 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  9. Fla Pete

    Maybe McCain should go to a round room and told go stand in a corner.That hypocrite said he NEVER said or did anything racial against Obama,until he was shown with Palin making radical gestures on his campaign,during an interview at the end of his run in 08.He just smiled,looking senile as always,never quite answering the interviewer.Was stunned anyone would make such a remark,because he was a HERO,he was a known sympathiser for the communist vietcong,during his stay in Saigon Hilton,never passed anything pertaining to helping vets,KNOWN FACT He's yours Romney.You bought him,ya own him....

    January 25, 2012 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  10. Michael in Houston

    McCain...why dont you sit down. You have already demonstrated that you are not fit for office any more then Newt is. You have and always will be known as the guy who actually thought putting Palin a heartbeat away from the Presidency was a good idea. That single act, puts you in the category of no longer being a factor or worth listening to about anything. I wouldnt hire you or vote for you to deliver my newspaper.

    January 25, 2012 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  11. Jamie from Riverside

    Love it! Please all other republican losers stand up and come out with more crazy advice from the sidelines while go get more popcorn.

    January 25, 2012 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  12. The Real Tom Paine

    Boy, what a choice. A failed, one-term governor who was a glorified events planner, and a disgraced Speaker who seems to think insurance companies need advice on historical perspective.

    January 25, 2012 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  13. T'sah From Virginia

    You better watch out ginGRINCH – If you have John McCain coming after you, you are ONE and DONE!! Because years ago, McCain said and believed ►"I think we should really give Gov. Romney credit…he is consistent. He has consistently taken both sides of any major issue, he has consistently flip-flopped on every issue..." And today, he is saying something different – Talk about "FLIP-FLOPPING?"

    Obama 2012

    January 25, 2012 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  14. diridi

    these pathetic idiotic republicans do not have right to talk of Earmarks, and Lobby....what an idiotic people. Ashamed of these pigs.

    January 25, 2012 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |