Gingrich holds firm on immigration, hits Romney along the way
November 25th, 2011
02:10 PM ET
11 years ago

Gingrich holds firm on immigration, hits Romney along the way

(CNN) - Newt Gingrich responded to criticism from rival Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney over immigration by detailing his plan and attempting to show inconsistencies in the former Massachusetts governor's record with an abbreviated quote.

Gingrich, the former House speaker, sent his Twitter followers two links Wednesday, one to a page of his campaign website detailing his 10-step plan and another to a 2007 interview with Romney. The interview, conducted when Romney was governor, shows the two-time presidential candidate saying the illegal immigrants currently in the United States should "be able to stay, sign up for permanent residency or citizenship."

The link to the video was accompanied by a Tweet from Gingrich that read "Here's a trip down memory lane … So what's your position on citizenship for illegals again? (I oppose it.)"

However, the clip does not reflect his full point or the end of his sentence. A more complete video provided by the Romney campaign shows the candidate went on to say "but they should not be given a special pathway, a special guarantee that all of them get to stay here for the rest of their lives merely by virtue of having come here illegally."

The back and forth on the issue started at Tuesday night's CNN National Security Debate when Gingrich advocated for a "humane" approach to illegal immigration.

"If you've come here recently, you have no ties to this country, you ought to go home, period," Gingrich said. "If you've been here 25 years and you got three kids and two grandkids, you've been paying taxes and obeying the law, you belong to a local church, I don't think we're going to separate you from your family, uproot you forcefully and kick you out."

Fellow White House hopefuls Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota and Romney jumped on the comments equating them to "amnesty," which Romney said is a "magnet."

"Programs that have said that if people who come here illegally are going to get to stay illegally for the rest of their life, that's going to only encourage more people to come here illegally," Romney said. "The right course for our immigration system is to say we welcome people who want to come here legally."

Romney also said other magnets, like in-state tuition for illegal aliens and employers who knowingly higher illegal workers, should be stopped.

However, Gingrich did not back down amid the charges on or off the stage, instead saying he was "prepared to take the heat for saying let's be humane in enforcing the law without giving them citizenship, but by finding a way to create legality so that they are not separated from their families."

Gingrich's plan includes securing the border, updating the visa system and legal guest worker program, as well as creating an earned path to citizenship for the millions currently in the U.S.

- CNN's Steve Brusk and Jim Acosta contributed to this report.

Filed under: 2012 • Immigration • Mitt Romney • Newt Gingrich
soundoff (133 Responses)
  1. Republican

    @Wanda V. Greene

    Romney established the rules of engagement? Seriously, this tactic has been used on Romney for a very long time by both Obamas team and others with no defense from the media. The flap over Romneys ad shows you whos bed the media is in. It's not that I'm annoyed that his quote was taken out of context. It's the extent to which it was taken out of context, making it look like Romney took the exact opposite position that he actually has. The same is not true with Romneys ad. Romneys ad is not about distorting any of Obamas positions. Its about making a point, and using the exact same quote Obama used against McCain to do it. Essentially, that the tables have been turned, if Obama talks about the economy, he will lose.

    November 25, 2011 06:09 pm at 6:09 pm |
  2. Texas Billy

    Illegals should be deported with just the clothes on their backs Any assets they have from working illegally in the United States should be sold to the highest bidder. All monies raised should go to a fund to build a fences on the border.

    November 25, 2011 06:11 pm at 6:11 pm |
  3. chill

    Every onced in a while, Newt says something halfway intelligent to keep us guessing, but then the orphanages and child labor kick in and I remember he is a Republican and the originator of the Contract on America. Nice try though.

    November 25, 2011 06:17 pm at 6:17 pm |
  4. West Coast Conservative

    While I admire Mr Gingrich's compassion for for families in America, I believe the blame for the situation of illegal immigrants does not belong on the shoulders of the American public. If an illegal family is divided, it by their own choosing and design. They took the risk of doing something illegal. By the nature of that decision, being separated as a family (if they so choose) ends up being their responsibility- not the American tax paying public. Much like the tax payer is not responsible for a thief who decides to rob a bank. There are 'consequences' that come with illegal actions.

    November 25, 2011 06:19 pm at 6:19 pm |
  5. GeneSr

    Can't read them all to many. Summary Gringridge is a jerk. Lost my vote back to Ron Paul

    November 25, 2011 06:25 pm at 6:25 pm |
  6. jack johnson

    This may not be the post to ask this question, but here I go!!!1 If the prolifers get their way and life begins at conseption then any one who gets pregnant in another country can not claim citizenship in the United States. (is this correct?)

    November 25, 2011 06:28 pm at 6:28 pm |
  7. CBR

    I applaud Newt Gingrich for his stand on immigration. The proof that immigrants are draining our services is not there. These statements are made without direct proof.

    There are areas of the country having difficulty with illegal immigrants crossing into their state. They do take the most menial jobs and find a way to continue in those jobs while sending money home. Those people who wish to become janitors, farm workers, meat packers, cleaners of buildings, and custodial workers in hospitals can apply for those positions. Whether they would stay and continue to do the tasks assigned remains to be seen. If the jobs they want have been taken by immigrants then they should be picketing to let people know they have been denied a job.

    November 25, 2011 06:31 pm at 6:31 pm |
  8. Keith in Austin

    The GOP places legal, working Hispanics in high regard. What we are against are those entering our Country illegally. Simply put, our Nation cannot afford spending precious resources in support of those breaking the law to be here. We already have way too many Liberal parasites living on the back of US taxpayers. Obviously, Obama will give away the farm regarding amnesty and little action all for Hispanic votes! Be smart enough to realize it folks!

    November 25, 2011 06:33 pm at 6:33 pm |
  9. Hardwork

    Romney will lead this nation to VICTORY!!!!

    November 25, 2011 06:36 pm at 6:36 pm |
  10. zip

    The fact that Newt Gingrich is even on the national radar screen is bone chilling. I attended a speech he gave in the 90s and the theme was career politicians are the reason for government corruption. That was why he advocated term limits in the Contract with America. 20 years later, term limits are nowhere in sight. But career politician Newt Gingrich is still around. The irony is lost on the right.

    November 25, 2011 06:40 pm at 6:40 pm |
  11. JcPapa

    Romney response by providing the following transcripts of the interview: ""but they should not be given a special pathway, a special guarantee that all of them get to stay here for the rest of their lives merely by virtue of having come here illegally.".............Didn't his campaign just put out an Ad that did not quote the entire transcript of Obama repeating what Mcain said in 2008 on the economy " Now he wants us to read the whole transcript. No we will read just what Newt put out, just like how he wants us to read just what if campaign put out "if we talk about the economy, we loose" a Mcain statement that the Romney campaign refused to show all the transcript. Hahaha

    November 25, 2011 06:42 pm at 6:42 pm |
  12. Republican


    Sure, Romneys ad does not incude the context that Obama was quoting McCain. It's a little shady, but well within the norms of politicking. The inaccuracies that David Axlerod throws out there on a daily basis on behalf of the President are far more egregious. The two are very different because Gingrich completely misrepresents Romneys position on Amnesty, making it seem as though he had the exact opposite position than he actually did. The quote that Romney uses against Obama, which was a quote that Obama was using against McCain does not misrepresent any of Obamas positions and does not misrepresent Obamas record. Instead the ad uses the very same quote that Obama was using against McCain to make the point that if Obama talks about the economy he will lose.

    November 25, 2011 06:45 pm at 6:45 pm |
  13. Loathstheright

    Never trust a slimy lizard...this Newt is one of the slimiest too.

    November 25, 2011 06:46 pm at 6:46 pm |
  14. RetiredVet


    2 words:Ronald Reagan. It's in the history books. Try reading instead of listening to talk radio.

    November 25, 2011 06:51 pm at 6:51 pm |
  15. chris24

    newt gingrich, oh yea, i remember him. he tried to get clinton impeached while he was
    off banging some girl behind his wife's back, all the while talking all conservative.

    now he's the frontrunner? how soon we forget.

    November 25, 2011 06:55 pm at 6:55 pm |
  16. Observer

    Ralf is clueless when he falsely claims that "Illegal immigrants do not pay taxes to the government".

    Go into ANY business and see if you can avoid paying sales and other taxes by saying you are an illegal immigrant.

    November 25, 2011 06:56 pm at 6:56 pm |
  17. GrOPer

    Newt misjudges his own party's bigotry and racism. Calling for amnesty is going to destroy his campaign.

    He should have called for internment camps and forced labor. The modern GOP would eat that up.

    November 25, 2011 07:00 pm at 7:00 pm |
  18. Lizzie

    Ale, you live in a dreamworld, what on earth have you been smocking, I sure would like to have some. Please show us where illigals pay taxes, besides salestax? Your statement about them not having a place in their country to wait for immigration, are they homeless?? Not receiving welfare, think again, plus free medical care, foodstamps and every social program that is available, why do you think California is broke.

    November 25, 2011 07:07 pm at 7:07 pm |
  19. Publius Novus

    Oh bob! "So...if we committed a crime years ago, we get a free pass on it? What crimes does this include?" With the exception of murder, there is this nifty thing called the statute of limitations. So the answer to your question is this: except for murder, yes, you get a free pass. It includes everything but murder. It's been like that for a long, long, time.

    November 25, 2011 07:20 pm at 7:20 pm |
  20. Leo

    Pass the 25 year rule nd you wont one illegal with less than 30 years here with abunch of rent receipts to probe it.

    November 25, 2011 07:33 pm at 7:33 pm |
  21. Cindy

    I also agree with Ralf. They only need 1 child born in the USA to get benefits. They work as sub-contractors which means their employer does not take tax out of their checks. The sad think is govmt. will not kick them off, but will cut the benefits of americans who need these services. My neighbor works for a tax preparation company. Every week he gets 7 or 8 of them using the same socail security number. He has been told not to complain but to accept it and send it in. Who knows if the IRS ever catches it.

    November 25, 2011 07:36 pm at 7:36 pm |
  22. GOPlaughingstock

    Open up the borders. Newt wants ILLEGAL's. All you have to tell the authorities is that you go to church. Thanks Newt.

    November 25, 2011 07:41 pm at 7:41 pm |
  23. PlatinumDyi

    Why can't these Republicans make up their minds? Are they all on drugs?

    November 25, 2011 07:53 pm at 7:53 pm |
  24. Doug

    "I would like to remindd you that is was someone from the Republican party that put crosshairs over a congress womans district in my state and then tried to play the victim when that congress woman was shot."

    And I would like to remind you that Democrats have been putting crosshairs over districts and Republican candidates for decades and your ilk never once said a word about it.

    And I would like to remind you that Giffords was shot by a DEMOCRAT who used to work for her election.

    And I don't think that I need to remind you that almost every Democrat in America wishes death upon every single Conservative in America, after all you know that, that hate is in your so called Democrat "heart".

    November 25, 2011 08:09 pm at 8:09 pm |
  25. Jed

    Mitt 2012!

    Let's be honest, Newt will never raise enough money to beat Obama. Romney is already beating the President in many polls, and will only rise further after the primaries.

    Only 7% strongly object to him, and they do not know him or what he stands for.

    November 25, 2011 08:24 pm at 8:24 pm |
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