May 7th, 2009
03:00 PM ET
13 years ago

Gingrich, Sharpton meet with Obama on education

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="Newt Gingrich and Al Sharpton visited the White House Thursday to meet with the president about education."]
WASHINGTON (CNN) – Call it an instance of strange political bedfellows.

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, R-Georgia, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Rev. Al Sharpton met with President Obama at the White House Thursday to discuss education.

"I think this is an issue that should bring all Americans together," Gingrich said after the meeting. "I think that education should be the first civil right of the 21st century and I think we have to move forward from No Child Left Behind towards helping every American get ahead."

Gingrich, who is credited with the 1994 Republican Revolution, also praised the new Democratic president's policies on education.

"I think this president has shown courage, during the primaries when it was difficult," said Gingrich. "He stood out for charter schools. He has made clear his commitment to lifting the cap on charter schools. He has made clear his belief in accountability. And, I think as Americans, we can reach beyond Democrat and Republican, we can reach beyond liberal and conservative."

For Sharpton, a candidate in the 2004 Democratic presidential primary, education is a civil rights issue.

"[W]e have a crisis of inequality in this country with education," he said. "Fifty-five years after Brown vs. The Board of Education, there is still a difference in how students get up in the morning and go to school. Some are treated differently, some are funded differently, some face different principals, different teachers. There is a difference in the quality of education."

And, like Gingrich, Sharpton said that there was a bipartisan commitment to improve education.

"And we are committed across our political and ideological lines . . . . We may not agree on certain specific issues, but there must be a commitment in this country for equal education for all American young people," Sharpton said.

Filed under: Al Sharpton • Education • Newt Gingrich • President Obama
soundoff (24 Responses)
  1. Tulsa

    Uh-Oh..... Newt praised Obama....
    Rush is going to go postal on you Mr. Gingrich.

    May 7, 2009 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  2. AnnMM

    Sharpton? Come again?

    May 7, 2009 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  3. yuri

    We are rather astonished and mystified at the same time at the NG's agreement with BHO, regardless of the topic they seemed to have discussed. NG must have a hidden ace up his sleeve and methinks that he will report this to RL, the fatuous fatso.

    May 7, 2009 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  4. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA

    Al & Newt seem to agree that bipartisanship can be reached, but I'm sure there are some right wing people out there who are going to scream bloody murder. When a party has become so accustomed to saying NO, partisanship is the only way to go. I'm shocked I'm saying this, but I applaud Newt on this. But he's not even in the GOP leadership. Where's Boehner, Cantor and the rest of them? Those are the elected officials, not Gingrich.

    May 7, 2009 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  5. Marc in Virginia

    I agree, this is a non-partisan issue. But why is this collection of morons getting together to discuss education when they're barely articulate themselves.

    May 7, 2009 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  6. DT

    And I thought all Gingrich knew how to do was bad mouth Obama...

    May 7, 2009 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  7. Marge

    I don't understand why Newt would be asked for his opinion on anything. He is the worst possible person to discuss race relations any way.

    May 7, 2009 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  8. Had enough in MN

    Gingrich & Sharpton? Now there's a couple goofballs the president should ignore.

    May 7, 2009 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  9. Mississippi Mike

    Gingrich is trying to stay relevant. Sharpton wants the spotlight and to make Whitey suffer. This is the political equivelant of having Paris Hilton and Dennis Rodman advise Obama on how to make people like him.

    May 7, 2009 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  10. Tina

    While I commend Gingrich for his positive comments (finally), he has been so ascerbic and negative along with the rest of the GOP that I cannot take him seriously. I read the comments thinking there's a "but" in there or there's some kind of agenda. I like to be open and listen to others' opinions, but this just seems so out of character that somehow I cannot believe it. So, let's see if his actoins follow his rhetoric – when that happens, I will listen.

    May 7, 2009 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  11. Kelby In Houston, TX

    Huh? Wha? who? On education....for real? WoW! I'm mildly impressed and I don't know why.

    May 7, 2009 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  12. Ted Tartaglia

    Newt is the one Republican who might have a chance of getting the Party of No to say yes to education. It is also heartening to see Newt willing to risk the wrath of party leader Rush Limbaugh.

    May 7, 2009 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  13. lynn in NM

    Sharpton? He has any creditbility left???? Anyone remember Tawana Brawley?

    May 7, 2009 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  14. Freed_From_W

    Why are the opinions of a backwards republican and someone who wholeheartedly believes there's an invisible man in the sky at all valuable on the future of education in this country?

    Maybe people who have the ability to think critically would be a better sort to ask....

    May 7, 2009 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  15. The Other Michael in Houston

    Why does it look like Newt is thinking "Al, you had me at hello" in that picture LOL!

    May 7, 2009 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  16. Enlightened Voter

    Gingrich is a republican he could care less about education. I don't care what he says, it's for his own benefit trust me.

    May 7, 2009 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  17. Michael

    When wealthy Republicans propose acting to benefit the general populace, it is time to look for the catch: how it is going to be turned into a cash cow for wealthy Republicans?
    When have wealthy Republicans ever done anything to improve the quality of life for any other group of Americans?

    May 7, 2009 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  18. Dan, TX

    A small step in bipartisanship. A very small step. But it was a step forward. Kind of refreshing.

    May 7, 2009 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |

    Two has-beens publicly embracing "education" – The political risk-taking equavilant in our society of saying you love your mom, apple pie, baseball, hot dogs and the American flag.
    Absolute phonies but the "values voters" in America will think they are "really nice guys, true Americans". Please excuse my gag relflex...

    May 7, 2009 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  20. David

    Why is Sharpton not in jail. He was just fined for illegal use of campaign funds and now he is meeting with the president....sounds about right for this administration

    May 7, 2009 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  21. Holly B

    Well this is great...two very controversial figures uniting on a very important issue...dare I say, yes we can????

    May 7, 2009 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  22. David

    When will people realize that education, like marriage and health care, is NOT a RIGHT. Nothing that inherently requires the effort or labor of others can be called a right.

    As for "inequality" in the education system, that's life, unless he's talking about discrimination against blacks, which he doesn't seem to be.

    May 7, 2009 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  23. Alison

    I thought this was photo-shopped until I saw it on the news. And I still feel like I'm in Bizarro World!

    May 7, 2009 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  24. M

    Newt is gearing up to run for POTUS in 2012...He doesn't care about education for ALL Americans. If he did, he has had plenty of time to prove it.

    May 7, 2009 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |