Gingrich under fire from Republicans over comments
May 17th, 2011
09:11 AM ET
11 years ago

Gingrich under fire from Republicans over comments

(CNN) – Newt Gingrich has been an official presidential candidate for only a week, but the former House Speaker is already under siege from fellow Republicans over recent comments that disparaged a House GOP budget proposal and appeared to endorse some form of a health care mandate that conservatives have long derided.

"This is a big deal," said Charles Krauthammer, the conservative Washington Post columnist. "He's done. He didn't have a big chance from the beginning but now it's over."

"I am not going to justify this. I'm not going to explain this," talk radio host Rush Limbaugh clamored. "The attack on Paul Ryan. The support for an individual mandate in health care? Folks, don't ask me to explain this. There is no explanation."

The uproar stems from Gingrich's comments during an interview on NBC's Meet the Press Sunday, when the former House Speaker called a Medicare provision in the GOP budget proposal spearheaded by Rep. Paul Ryan a "radical change" and later indicated he supports requiring every citizen to buy health insurance or instead post a bond for insurance.

The two positions appeared contradictory, with Gingrich hammering Ryan's plan to impulse a mandatory voucher system in lieu of Medicare in one breath while offering support for mandated health coverage in the other.

"What you want to have is a system where people voluntarily migrate to better outcomes, better solutions, better options, not one where you suddenly impose it," Gingrich said of the Ryan plan that has proposed replacing Medicare with vouchers to be used toward private health care plans. "I am against Obamacare imposing radical change, and I would be against a conservative imposing radical change."

But in the same interview Gingrich sad of an insurance mandate, "I agree that all of us have a responsibility to pay – help pay for health care…And, I think that there are ways to do it that make most libertarians relatively happy. I've said consistently we ought to have some requirement that you either have health insurance or you post a bond."

Amidst charges of inconsistency, Gingrich released a Web video Monday in which he emphatically stated he was "for the repeal for Obamacare, and …against any effort to impose a federal mandate on anyone because it is fundamentally wrong and I believe unconstitutional."

A Gingrich spokesman also insisted Monday that "there is little daylight between Ryan and Gingrich."

"Newt would fully support Ryan if it were not compulsory," spokesman Rick Tyler said. "We need to design a better system that people will voluntarily move to. That is a major difference in design but not substance."

Still, some conservatives remain befuddled when it comes to just where Gingrich stands on health care, an issue that is believe to be rival Mitt Romney's biggest vulnerability not the former House Speaker's.

"He can't help himself. Gingrich prefers extravagant lambasting when a mere distancing would do, and the over-arching theoretical construct to a mundane pander. He is drawn irresistibly to operatic overstatement – sometimes brilliant, always interesting, and occasionally downright absurd," Rich Lowry, the editor of the National Review, wrote Monday.

Meanwhile House Majority Whip Eric Cantor called Gingrich's statements a "tremendous misspeak."

"I think that many have said now he's finished," Cantor Chicago radio station WLS, according to The Hill. "I haven't had a chance to really dissect what in the world he's I probably would reserve judgment on that."

Meanwhile, it appears Gingrich is doing damage control at an event in Mason City, Iowa Tuesday, signing a petition calling for the repeal of the health care law.

And, in an interview with the Des Moines Register Monday, Gingrich said he is the victim of "gotcha" politics.

"I've for two years gone around the country making speeches about ObamaCare. I've said over and over, 'We should repeal it,'" he said. "And then people to go from all of that body of evidence to say, 'Yeah, but for 25 seconds yesterday, I thought you said X,' that's beyond gotcha."

soundoff (97 Responses)
  1. gt

    newt is wasting every ones time... he is about as much of a example as arnold or another moral midget.. jessie jackson....dont matter the party plenty of cheaters who blow smoke you know where....

    May 17, 2011 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  2. ThinkAgain

    @lucy2: I agree with you assessment that the GOP is rigid in its requirement that all GOP candidates must blindly follow lock-step; for a party that says it's all about "freedom," it's obvious they aren't (except, of course, when it comes to making money, and then anything goes).

    However, I disagree wtih you about Romney; he's a shallow flip-flopping opportunist who, like McCain before him, has sold out his soul and principles for a shot at the Presidency.

    POTUS is too important an office to entrust to someone so obviously enamored with serving his political party, ego and ambition, instead of serving his country.

    May 17, 2011 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  3. Paul1st

    Is anyone surprised by Gingrich talking out of both sides of his mouth?

    May 17, 2011 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  4. Aaron

    Newt is extremely crafty and calculating. He realizes that Ryan's plans have enraged a large percentage of the population across party lines and is trying to look like the sole Repub who doesn't want to dismantle Medicare. Of course, if a miracle happened and he got to the White House, he'd fully support dismantling it. He has been a lying, backstabbing weasel since he entered politics. He's the one who designed the nasty politics of American hating American based on party affiliation.

    May 17, 2011 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  5. ThinkAgain

    With each passing day, the GOP reveals itself to be a party of fascists. The upside is it is providing a very real contrast to the Democrats, who stand for actually bettering the country and understand the meaning of "united" as in "United States of America."

    May 17, 2011 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  6. America Shrugged

    Looks like the GOP had better find a decent moderate to put up against President Obama or they might as well just hand the keys back to him and save us all from watching billions of corporate dollars in attack ads for the next 18 months. The radicals and tea party might as well sit this next one out because the mainstream GOP aren't going to let the crazies take over.

    May 17, 2011 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  7. Me

    We see the true colors of the GOP. Huckabee, like Palin, and like all of the GOP only think about money. It is a pretty sad that Huckabee put his finalncial future in front of his country. But thank God the truth came out now, and we did not elect such a person to lead the country. How can Orin Hatch go back and tell his constituents with a stright face that tax breaks are needed for the oil companies. These guys care about nothing but money.

    May 17, 2011 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  8. The Right Left

    Newt said something that most top Republicans know about the Ryan plan. It is a backdoor way of robbing the poor, the middle class and the elderly to feed the rich. Rush Limbaugh, Sarah Palin, Glenn Beck and so many others have made millions making a fool out of the angry Right wing also known as the TEA Baggers, a creation of Dick Army. The Republican Party is now, using Michelle Bachman's words, Anti American. They should be investigated for robbing the 97- of the people of this country to benefit the top 3%. They have become the internal enemies of the state.

    May 17, 2011 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  9. ThinkAgain

    Wow, that was quick ...

    May 17, 2011 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  10. George Guadiane - Austerlitz, NY

    Assuming a MIRACLE, and he could get the Republican nomination, he could never win in a general election.
    Anyone who fails to listen to him and parse his words to their meaning, does so at their own risk.

    May 17, 2011 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  11. FM

    The field is starting to shape up on GOP side. How nice to see they are eating themselves. Quite entertaining.

    May 17, 2011 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  12. EddyL

    Gingrich is a lying pig. Not much else to say about that. But the pod mentality of the GOP is scary if anyone bothers to look at it. You MUST all think the same way about everything! PODS!

    May 17, 2011 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  13. Molly Weasley

    Newt spends most of his time spouting lies and nonsense and selling it as "serious." The one time he actually says something correct, the other Rethugs jump all over him.

    And by the way, GOPers, listen to what your patron St. Ronald Reagan said about raising the debt limit: It would be catastrophic not to do it. Save your petty fights for something else.

    May 17, 2011 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  14. Troy

    Not a big fan of the new Newt, loved the old one. But these comments make me respect him a little more. At least he is showing he is not a mindless Republican following blindly what someone tells him. He is actually thinking what is best for the country, not the party. And THAT is what is wrong with both parties. They forget they represent the USA, not their party.

    May 17, 2011 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  15. Greger

    The GOP is looking for a better Bozo than this clown. Ran our government so bad he had to shut it down when he was in Congress. Is that Presidential? No way. Next Bozo please.

    May 17, 2011 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  16. Dale

    It is compulsory for a reason– You will expect society to save your life when you get sick. If you show up at the ER having a heart attack, you will get treatment regardless of whether you can pay. If epublicans think health care insurance should be optional, then we would need to let the poor die on the steps of the ER or socialize the cost of treating those people. The money has to come from somewhere. You want to live? You need to pay your share of the health care costs.

    May 17, 2011 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  17. rs

    ...And the suicidal circular firing squad begins.

    Republican/Tea Party members not quite satisfied with loosing the minority/Hispanic votes by supporting racist bills in AZ, GA, and UT.; Who have worked hard to make the poor and middle class understand that they don't care about anyone but the rich; are now doubling down by denying their own policies- and shooting each other.

    May 17, 2011 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  18. njemnu

    Obama 2012. It will be a landslide.

    May 17, 2011 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  19. Lynda/Minnesota

    "Maybe someone, somewhere has a brain and a degree in economics so he/she will have some vague idea on how to run the country and spend our money wisely instead of just throwing money around."

    Not to worry ... whomever Limbaugh picks will win the GOPer nomination. It's been this way for too many years now for the GOP to change direction anytime soon. Not that Gingrich could, or Pawlenty, or Daniels, or Romney, or any other GOPer candidate being tossed around in the hope that one of them will eventually become the next shiny star of Reaganese appeal.

    Whether Limbaugh gives a damn about qualifications (or America) is another matter entirely.

    May 17, 2011 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  20. AC

    OK, picture this, 2 drunk guys passed out. Shit, what are we going to tell our wives? Well lets tell them we found a tablet with 5 more commandments on them? Hello, how many Christains believe this story vs. the story about the bible? I am sure Mitt Romney is a nice guy but...........................................

    May 17, 2011 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  21. NVa Native

    Limpball can't explain this?? He's getting weak – as always pull out the typical lies and rascism.... that won't work his whole audience looks just as square headed and dumbed-down as the newt...... well his basic lies always work just fine on his audience.... just pull them out of your cheeks and you'll do fine Mr Jabba-da-butt.

    May 17, 2011 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  22. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    It's OK with Republicans for Newt to use ugly divisive code words against the American people but it's not OK for him to slam Republican constituents or is this just the excuse for acknowledging the truth.

    May 17, 2011 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
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