March 9th, 2012
10:02 PM ET
2 years ago

Gingrich calls for Panetta resignation

(CNN) – Presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich on Friday called on Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta to resign, rebuking him for telling a congressional panel that the U.S. would “seek international permission” before intervening in the ongoing bloodshed in Syria.

“I have been told that the secretary of defense has suggested that international agreements override the Congress,” Gingrich told supporters in Gulfport, Mississippi. “If he believes that, he should resign tonight.”

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Responding to a statement that the U.S. was placing military resolutions of the United Nations, NATO and the Arab League ahead of those made by Congress, Panetta told the Senate Armed Services Committee on Wednesday: "You know, our goal would be to seek international permission. And we would come to the Congress and inform you and determine how best to approach this, whether or not we would want to get permission from the Congress."

Later in the day, a defense official told CNN that Panetta’s comments could be taken out of context.

"He was re-emphasizing the need for an international mandate. We are not ceding U.S. decision-making authority to some foreign body," the official said.

But Gingrich said the secretary’s comments showed “how radical this administration is.”

“The time has come for us to focus on American interests. And I want you to know that the foreign policy I would follow starts with American values, American interests and American institutions,” he said.

At rally earlier Friday in Mobile, Alabama, Gingrich added, “Leon Panetta is the United States secretary of defense, not the United Nations secretary of defense.”

The U.S. Constitution stipulates that the power to declare war rests with Congress, and the president is the commander in chief of the armed forces.

Gingrich is not the first presidential candidate to call for Panetta’s resignation. At a November CNN presidential debate, Texas Gov. Rick Perry said the defense secretary should resign in protest of defense cuts that were to be triggered by a budget supercommittee stalemate.

And Panetta is not the first Obama administration official who Gingrich has said should resign. Three other Cabinet secretaries – Attorney General Eric Holder, Energy Secretary Steven Chu and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar - have gained his ire, as has Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke and the “White House czars.”

“The first executive order I sign will abolish as of that moment every White House czar,” he said at a late February rally in Dalton, Georgia.

- CNN’s Shawna Shepherd, Chris Lawrence and Gregory Wallace contributed to this report.

Also see:

Romney in Mississippi: 'I like grits'

GOP quick to criticize president over jobs report

DNC hits Romney on individual mandate

Game Change' actors dish on Palin, portrayals and politics


Filed under: 2012 • Leon Panetta • Newt Gingrich
soundoff (52 Responses)
  1. Charlie from the North

    I would like to hereby invite Former Representative Newton Gingrich to, as Governor Mark Sanford would put it: "Go hike the Appalachian Trail" with himself.

    March 9, 2012 10:21 pm at 10:21 pm |
  2. once upon a horse

    when I hear things like this the more I think that the late George Carlin may have been correct when he said that there are certain Americans who just enjoy bombing brown people. Looks likes we have quite a few that fit that in today's GOP.

    March 9, 2012 10:22 pm at 10:22 pm |
  3. Indy

    Newt wins his home state and all of sudden he thinks he is the boss of everyone,Panetta will send Ginrich to the moon where he belongs, and he can drill,dril, drill for $2.50 gas.

    March 9, 2012 10:26 pm at 10:26 pm |
  4. ruemorgue

    Gingrich would have us start a new war and have more American die, just so he can blame Obama and get elected. Gingrich is disgusting for both his self-centerness and for be a wife-cheater (twice).

    March 9, 2012 10:28 pm at 10:28 pm |
  5. tefera

    u r bull that u don't know what u r talking about.You better resign from ur pre candidacy.

    March 9, 2012 10:34 pm at 10:34 pm |
  6. ThinkAgain

    Gingrich is grasping at straws – and trying to gin up the racist base he's hoping to win over in the next round of Southern GOP primaries.

    Besides, for Newtsie to lecture anyone on anything is ridiculous on its face, given what a lying, cheating, immoral and unethical piece of ... work ... he is.

    March 9, 2012 10:34 pm at 10:34 pm |
  7. A conservatave with brains

    It is so very strange that Gingrich is calling for resignations. In what capacity can he realistically have any authority to call for resignations? He almost went to jail for influence peddling. He was drummed out of office as Speaker of the House for ethics violations. His personal life has been a slow-motion train wreck for decades. The one person who should resign, the one person who should quit what he's doing without further comment is Gingrich himself. He is wasting money in a campaign htat has failed, and will do nothing but take votes from candidates who could actually beat Obama. He is taking attention away from the real issues of the election by spouting nonsense about people resigning. Mr. Gingrich, your time is past. Go home. Enjoy your retirement. You are no longer relevant.

    March 9, 2012 10:43 pm at 10:43 pm |
  8. Ragatang

    Poor Nwet, the kitchen sinks are coming out. Maybe they will stick.

    March 9, 2012 10:46 pm at 10:46 pm |
  9. jack johnson

    So you know the repubs. want us in a war with no outcome! This would protect the military spending budget. When obama acted with the international coalition the repubs. were crying like babies. When we turned over the lead on the bombing they cried again. THR PRESIDENT CAN NOT WIN NO MATTER WHAT HE DOES!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    March 9, 2012 10:46 pm at 10:46 pm |
  10. Thomas

    Gingrich calls for Panetta resignation ?

    Rep. Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.), the charismatic soul of the Republican Revolution whose members turned on him after unexpected losses in Tuesday's election, announced yesterday he will quit as speaker of the House.

    March 9, 2012 10:55 pm at 10:55 pm |
  11. jack

    Newt go back to buying Jewelry and easting rich food. You're a washed up has been, if you ever were anything else.

    March 9, 2012 11:00 pm at 11:00 pm |
  12. Max

    Seeking for his voice

    How weird? Gingrich is simply seeking for his voice. He lost it when he was booted from congress.

    March 9, 2012 11:01 pm at 11:01 pm |
  13. Larry L

    Let's see... his role in our government is the job of former, dishonored, disgraced Speaker of the House for unethical behavior. He's the guy who worked as a sleazy lobbyist after cheating on his wives – after hammering Clinton for the same sin. We care about his opinion why?

    March 9, 2012 11:10 pm at 11:10 pm |
  14. The-Least-Unelectable

    If Rmoney is struggling when nobody is talking about his HIDDEN tax records, what will happen when Dems start exposing him in the general election?

    March 9, 2012 11:17 pm at 11:17 pm |
  15. normajean @ verizon ,com

    The one thing the three presidential candidates have in common, is an arrogance like nothing we have ever seen before. How in the world can a man of questionable honor,,, while taking a last hopeful leap into the political scene possibly get the nerve to question the :Secretary of Defense on his dealings with a foreign country????Each of these three men has bent over backwards to give the impression that their knowledge and what they are famous for makes them very special.....well....to me and a score of other voters, they are the left overs and we are not impressed!!!

    March 9, 2012 11:33 pm at 11:33 pm |
  16. cab7g

    Reblogged this on City On A Hill D.C. and commented:
    Newt is absolutely right!

    March 10, 2012 12:00 am at 12:00 am |
  17. Terry

    Poor Newt, he has reached the end of the rope he used to hang himself in 1994 when he created the Contract with America that turned out to be a ponzi scheme.

    March 10, 2012 12:21 am at 12:21 am |
  18. Former Republican, now an Independent

    Gingrich sounds a lot like the Bush/Cheney administration that made 95% of the world hate the U.S., including countries that are our allies and used to look up to us.

    March 10, 2012 12:25 am at 12:25 am |
  19. MaryM

    My God, can these candidates sound anymore stupid? What is the GOP thinking?

    March 10, 2012 12:40 am at 12:40 am |
  20. Niko_in_Richmond

    His desperation is so unappealing. The man will say and do anything–to be able to rake in speaking engagement fees. At this point, we all know that a snowball has a greater chance of surviving in Hell than Gingrich does in becoming the GOP presidential nominee. So, at this point, it is all about being provocative and annoying so that when he does excite the race–in shame–he can bring request higher fees for speaking engagements.

    March 10, 2012 12:49 am at 12:49 am |
  21. carlos

    why doesnt this idiot STFU??????...he shouldgo back to georgia and stay.

    March 10, 2012 12:55 am at 12:55 am |
  22. Amurikan Idiocracy

    Get over it Newt. I hopePenneta tells you to shove it. These War mongering guys aren't even fit to serve.

    March 10, 2012 12:57 am at 12:57 am |
  23. derrrrrrr

    Wow Newt Gingrich finally makes sense!

    March 10, 2012 01:35 am at 1:35 am |
  24. Snooze70

    That Mr. Gingrich has a national platform is testimony to the very sorry state of electoral politics in this country. This man should NEVER be allowed near executive power. Too irresponsible and too big an ego.

    March 10, 2012 02:07 am at 2:07 am |
  25. FRANK FROM LAS VEGAS

    If anyone needs to resign, get out of the way, pack their bags and go home never to be heard from again it's Newty! He'll say anything about anybody just to get free press and making sane people have to talk about him. That's all he good for. When he was in congress he was kicked out by his own party, waited until his wives were sick to get rid of them, not much of a man is he. If Newts lips are moving, he's telling a lie. In a word, he is disgusting.

    March 10, 2012 02:21 am at 2:21 am |
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