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. Republicans Are The American Taliban

    Can someone explain how we "secure the border"? I thought the Republican mantra was no federal influence on states rights. John McCain hasn't even finished building the fence around Arizona to keep out illegal Mexicans and Canadians, like he promised to do when he tricked voters into reelecting him!!

    November 25, 2011 08:25 pm at 8:25 pm |
  2. stranger in an increasingly strange land

    Gengrich is from the Nixon style school of American politics. Lying is his stock in trade. "If you tell a lie often enough, people will believe it to be the truth."

    November 25, 2011 08:28 pm at 8:28 pm |
  3. JT

    Romney's comment using Obama's words is attributed correctly in the commercial. True, it is fine print, but the point of the quote is not that Obama said it about himself– its that Pres Obamas policies have made this country worse off economically! Romney is the best candidate in the field to fix this country economically and get us back on the right track.

    November 25, 2011 08:30 pm at 8:30 pm |
  4. Bring it on!!!

    Gingrich can make tough decision without consulting no one! but Mitts the circus clown have to consult the church elders of both the Utah mormons and the lutherans.

    November 25, 2011 08:39 pm at 8:39 pm |
  5. skarphace

    This issue is good for Gingrich for two main reasons:
    1) It separates him from the Tea Party crowd and puts him in good position to be the ABR (Anybody But Romney), and
    2) It gains him votes from moderates and Independents who would have otherwise voted for Romney

    Gingrich is a very good campaigner, and he thought this strategy out well. Will the Teapublicans vote for Romney? No. If Gingrich wins the nomination, will the Teapublicans vote for Obama over him? No way. Therefore, he knows he does not have to pander to their vote over Romney or Obama.

    All he has to do is beat out the other Tea Party candidates. Lucky for him, they all self destructed.

    November 25, 2011 08:47 pm at 8:47 pm |
  6. Charlie from the North

    Of all of the lame brain mean spirited ideas this SOB comes up with. He loses points for wanting to be "humane" to immigrants. Alex de Toqueville was right "we are great because we are good". Any more t-party crap and we will cease to be good next step? ceasing to be great. Let's occupy the voting booth America

    November 25, 2011 08:58 pm at 8:58 pm |
  7. A disgusted former Republican

    Newt is such a compassionate guy. Too bad he didn't show much compassion to his ex-wives.

    November 25, 2011 09:05 pm at 9:05 pm |
  8. hacimo

    Gingrich has totally blown it as far as I am concerned. I was initially interested but after his statements about immigration I can never vote for him. It's not simply that he wants "guest workers" when the unemployment rate is over 9%. Its not simply he believes in this "red card" nonsense that would create a permanent slave-like underclass with legal status but no citizenship. It is stupidity and it is amnesty to boot. The deepest problem I have with the man is that he implies that people who disagree with him and want the law strictly enforced, are "inhumane". He doesn't seem to understand that the highest duty of the president is to enforce our laws and defend our country from invasion. Sometimes, in special cases, doing this can break our hearts. A commander sometimes has to order actions that will cost men their lives. But the president has to have the mental toughness to do his job anyhow. How can Newt be president if he doesn't even have the mental toughness to demand that foreigners respect our borders? His mind is so twisted up and weak that he is not fit to hold high office.

    November 25, 2011 09:07 pm at 9:07 pm |
  9. patty

    Ralf is not right. He is full of it.

    November 25, 2011 09:12 pm at 9:12 pm |
  10. Mark

    "However, the clip does not reflect his full point or the end of his sentence. "...and people wonder why Independents can come across cynical? They both lie, even here posters just come up with whatever statistics fit their arguments with nothing to support them. How the $%#$ are we supposed to make a rational, informed choice? They ALL lie, misquote, pander, and jockey. So trying to pretend your guy is more "honest" than the "other" is just white noise.

    November 25, 2011 09:26 pm at 9:26 pm |
  11. peter

    We are all people. There is no such thing as an "illegal alien." America has always been about opening our arms to all people who want to come here and work honestly, contribute to the system and benefit from the system. Sure, there are criminals among people who sneak across the border, just like there are criminals among those born here. But the vast majority come to work, to find better lives form themselves and their families. It is shameful that America, the so-called land of opportunity, in the end is no such thing. There two many who are afraid that our culture will change if we all so many into our country. So what? Let it change? The world is a changing place. it is that unreasonable resistance to the inevitalbe that causes the problems we experience in immigration.

    November 25, 2011 09:37 pm at 9:37 pm |
  12. Nevis

    Does Newt really want to go down memory lane?

    November 25, 2011 09:54 pm at 9:54 pm |
  13. Jeff

    How come the liberal media no longer cares about Cain? Is is because he is now polling 3rd? Wake up America Wake Up. you are being duped. Lemmings.

    November 25, 2011 10:41 pm at 10:41 pm |
  14. Jeff

    How come the liberal media no longer cares about Herman Cain since he is polling 3rd? Wake up America, you are being played as fools. Lemmings.

    November 25, 2011 10:50 pm at 10:50 pm |
  15. JohnE631

    so,,,if a U.S, citizen commited a crime 25 years ago, but he pays his taxes, has a family in the U.S., and is a member of a local church we should treat our citizens the same and not send them to jail??

    November 25, 2011 11:10 pm at 11:10 pm |
  16. Dkevswain

    To all those who said Romney did the same thing to Obama that Newt did to him, I ask, do you understand what irony is? Mitt was making a point that if Obama tries to run on the economy he's going to get killed, just like Obama said about McCain. Maybe Mitt's team gave the electorate too much credit thinking that they could see the subtle irony.

    November 25, 2011 11:47 pm at 11:47 pm |
  17. Brian

    I don't like Romney, but Gingrich has the audacity to accuse someone of flip-flopping? Newt has flipped on everything from healthcare and immigration to climate change and cap-and-trade and on to Libya and trials for terrorists.

    The man knows his political history, personal life, and constantly changing views on the issues will mean he never gets elected. He's simply a hack job on Romney and a shallow attempt to maintain political relevancy. When's his next book coming out?

    November 25, 2011 11:53 pm at 11:53 pm |
  18. m

    Romney is the consummate flip/flopper.

    November 25, 2011 11:54 pm at 11:54 pm |
  19. T'sah From Virginia

    ►Go-Mama on Fair is Fair's post!!!!◄ I read Fair is Far's response to you in the other article and knew you would come back with the facts and truth!!

    The more the RIGHT candidates battle, the LESS President Obama needs to do to bring them down. All of them have their 15 minutes of FLAVOR and then they drop in the charts!! They are showing ads that are completely out of context and they expect the American people will not notice. If you start off with a LIE you will end up in a LIE and cannot be trusted!!!

    Obama 2012

    November 26, 2011 12:09 am at 12:09 am |
  20. Paul Ernest Show

    I thought pots don't call kettles black. On one hand is Romney, who is by all evidence acrobatically inconsistent with his stances, and Newt, who is morally inconsistent. Well, they are all the same. Let's not criticize one and leave the other. Gosh, there's got to be a better candidate!

    November 26, 2011 12:20 am at 12:20 am |
  21. Scales of Justice

    I question whether Newt Gingrich is sincere about his immigration position or whether it is merely an attempt to siphon Hispanic voters who might otherwise vote for President Obama. Is this a segue to the GOP courting Hispanic voters?

    November 26, 2011 01:01 am at 1:01 am |
  22. Newt is not the Man for the job.

    Those who know him best (other Republican leaders who have worked with him in the past) are supporting him the least. He has not even garnered 1/10th of the endorsements from the leadership of the Party that Romney has. In fact, nearly every other candidate in the field has had more Republican leaders endorse them than Gingrich. Other Republican leaders remember him well, and apparently do not trust him despite his excellent debate performances.

    November 26, 2011 01:03 am at 1:03 am |
  23. ThePongster

    And Newt isn't a flip-flopper? Are you kidding me Newt? People, if you want someone that's been consistent then you better look to someone just a wee bit older.

    November 26, 2011 01:10 am at 1:10 am |
  24. algore

    Why rewrite history?? Regean let in 20 million illegals sold arns for hostages sold cocaine for contra war money (violating a congressional act) murdered thousands in central ameruca and propped up dictators papa doc noriega ex nazi pinochet ect

    November 26, 2011 02:20 am at 2:20 am |
  25. focusonjobs1

    Sorry Newt, I know you thought you could sneak one in there on the hateful GOP supporters but they showed you. Your watered down support of Immigrants will not get you the Hispanic support you wanted.

    November 26, 2011 02:22 am at 2:22 am |
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