Washington (CNN) – Newt Gingrich, who last week announced he was laying off staff and cutting back on campaign stops, responded coolly Tuesday to President Barack Obama's mention of his past language deriding a GOP budget plan.
In a speech at a media luncheon in Washington, Obama assailed Republicans for what he said was an inflexible position on cutting spending and balancing the federal budget. In making his point, the president dropped in a few references to the former House speaker.
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"Instead of moderating their views even slightly, the Republicans running Congress right now have doubled down and proposed a budget so far to the right it makes the Contract with America look like the New Deal," Obama said, referring to the 1994 campaign document that helped propel Gingrich to the House speakership and Republicans to a majority in the House of Representatives.
Obama went on to refer to Gingrich by name, reviving a criticism the Republican presidential candidate originally made of GOP Rep. Paul Ryan's budget plan in May.
"In fact, that renowned liberal, Newt Gingrich, first called the original version of the budget 'radical' and said it would contribute to right-wing social engineering," Obama said. "This is coming from Newt Gingrich. And yet this isn't a budget supported by some small group in the Republican Party. This is now the party's governing platform. This is what they're running on."
In a May 2011 appearance on NBC's "Meet the Press," Gingrich said specific elements of Ryan's budget plan, including its call for making major changes to Medicare, went too far.
"I don't think right-wing social engineering is any more desirable than left-wing social engineering," Gingrich said. "I don't think imposing radical change from the right or the left is a very good way for a free society to operate."
On Tuesday, the White House hopeful said Obama was using his words out of context, and that his assertion that the plan amounted to "right-wing social engineering" was meant only about a specific problem.
"Once again the president shows just how willing he is to distort the facts to score cheap political points, and how dangerous his reelection would be for the future of this country," Gingrich said in a statement. "In fact, I have enthusiastically endorsed the House Republican budget, including the Ryan-Wyden optional premium support plan in Medicare. My concern over previous versions of this budget was limited to the fact that the premium support plan was mandatory rather than optional. That concern has been addressed."
Gingrich concluded the jibe from the president was reflective of a mindset focused only on reelection.
"For the president to so blatantly distort the facts while offering no plan of his own just shows how little he is concerned with governing and solving the debt crisis enveloping this country," Gingrich said.