Gingrich stands by anti-child labor law comments
December 1st, 2011
02:28 PM ET
11 years ago

Gingrich stands by anti-child labor law comments

Des Moines, Iowa (CNN) - Republican hopeful Newt Gingrich appeared to stand by his controversial stance against certain laws governing child labor Thursday saying his previous comments were "spun out of control" by "the left."

"Really poor children in really poor neighborhoods have no habits of working and have nobody around them who works," the former House speaker told an audience at the headquarters for Nationwide Insurance.

He then seemed to imply that a young, poor individual's only likely source of possible income would be from breaking the law.

"They have no habit of 'I do this and you give me cash'–unless it's illegal."

Gingrich added that most successful businesspeople he knows started work "early" and made some kind of money when they were kids, whether it was by babysitting or mowing lawns.

Almost two weeks ago Gingrich called laws preventing child labor "truly stupid" and suggested students take the jobs of many janitors.

"What if you paid them part time in the afternoon to sit in the clerical office and greet people as they came in? What if you paid them to work as the assistant librarian? And I'd pay them as early as is reasonable and practical," he said Thursday.

"Then we get down to the janitor thing," Gingrich continued, in reference to his previous comments. "(I received) letters written that said janitorial work is really hard and really dangerous and this and that. OK, fine. So what if they became assistant janitors and their job was to mop the floor and clean the bathroom. And you paid them."

Gingrich's comments on the issue came in response to a Nationwide Insurance employee's question in which he asked for some clarification from the candidate.

The Republican holds two more events in the Des Moines area Thursday.

Filed under: 2012 • Newt Gingrich
soundoff (81 Responses)
  1. Mikey

    "Really poor children in really poor neighborhoods have no habits of working and have nobody around them who works,"
    Has this guy ever spent any time in a poor neighborhood? There are plenty of people in poor neighborhoods that work – and work hard – and try to do the right things. Yes there certainly are examples of people who do otherwise, but his comments include ugly, false, negative stereotypes that do not conform to reality. This lack of understanding of the reality of the majority of poor people in the United States explains a lot of the stupid comments frequently made by conservatives. I guess if you're totally ignorant, you always think you're right.

    December 1, 2011 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  2. vatoloke

    Is the Grinch competing with Gov. Death on who's better at blabbing out without thinking first? What comes out of these guys' mouths is priceless for the Democrats.

    December 1, 2011 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  3. w l jones

    Yes some childern started work at six of seven years old and went to school half day early fall and early spring while other went full time and did not work untile they were fully grown. Some people wont go back to those days with hundreds student one and half dictory fifty books in libary no city or county liberary. The first to say welfare. Said enough.

    December 1, 2011 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  4. Jim Rousch

    I understand that Newt Gingrich is supposed to play Scrooge in the remake of A CHRISTMAS CAROL. I also understand that this new version has an alternate ending-Scrooge refuses to see the error of his ways and burns in Hell because of how he continued to treat the poor among him.

    December 1, 2011 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  5. Boomer in Mo

    I know a lot of poor, working poor and lower middle class folks who work far harder in a day than Newt does in a month. And most kids I know start working at age 13 or 14 after school and on weekends. Want hard? Try picking up turkey eggs for 14 hours on Saturday, which means you are fending off really angry mama turkeys most of the day while you take their eggs. Let Newt try that for a couple of weekends.

    December 1, 2011 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  6. Jim Rousch

    As long as Republicans continue to talk like this and as long as they continue to force the poor to carry the load, President Obama has little to worry about, His second term is assured.

    December 1, 2011 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  7. Lynda/Minnesota

    Interesting choice of words from the man whose wife is herself running around the country promoting her own .... wait ... wait for it .... book for children. One assumes her book tour doesn't include "poor" neighborhoods?

    December 1, 2011 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  8. The Greedy Old Pigs are a neocon deathcult for diseased minds

    Mitt the Flipwit Hypocrite will probably come out and try to one-up Newter by claiming he (Mittens) supports indentured servitude.

    December 1, 2011 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  9. GI Joe

    Just hearing his smugness makes me want to go buy more ammunition.

    December 1, 2011 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  10. v_mag

    Do we need a clearer example of which century the tighty righties want to "take the country back" to? 17th, I'd say.

    December 1, 2011 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  11. Katie

    I clearly remember when I was little, early to mid 70's, the kids that got free or reduced lunch at school had to clean the cafeteria at the school that I attended; instead of going to recess. It stuck me like a knife that they were singled out, and I was maybe 7-10 y/o at the time. How could an adult want to stigmatize children like that? And an earlier poster was dead right, the poorest among us are some of the hardest workers I have had the priviledge of knowing.

    December 1, 2011 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  12. Thomas

    There is a line in the play where Oliver asks "Please sir, I want some more".... referring to the near starvation diet of gruel.

    How the Gingrich Stole Christmas!

    December 1, 2011 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  13. imp

    I think we all know that "poor children" know a whole lot more about working hard than Newty-boy EVER will!!! I teach college & it's the RICH kids who have no idea what hard work is! They feel they're entitled & don't need to work! Their parents are even worse – actually DEMANDING that their COLLEGE-AGED kids get the grade they feel they're entitled to – not the one they earned!!! Newt is so WRONG it's scary!

    December 1, 2011 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  14. Natalie

    As if Newtie is an expert on the poor. This is the most crazy idea I've ever heard!

    December 1, 2011 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  15. Sniffit

    Bwahahaha...good good good. Stand by it Newtered. Freekin brilliant. Yes...he's oh-so-smart and a "historian" and looky what an intellectual he is. C'mon CNN, you can do a better job smoothing this over and sweeping it under teh rug for might want to consider just pretending he never said these things like you're pretending he never exhibitted extreme moral terpitude and chauvanism in his marital relationships.

    Now we know: the musical selection for the "Anyone But Mittens" game of musical candidates was a funeral march.

    RIP GOP.

    December 1, 2011 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  16. John Kaye

    How is this a racist comment? My loosening some of the tough child labor laws, the ones not protecting a child's safety, would allow some kids who enter gangs or commit crimes to actually earn a paycheck. I am an employer who will never hire anyone under 18 years of age becasue of the strict laws governing minors. Somebody said here that it takes away from study time. Are you serious? Do you think all of these kids are studying after they get out of school?

    December 1, 2011 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  17. Dominican mama 4 Obama


    Really rich children in really rich neighborhoods have no one around them who (really) works.
    Why don't we put them to work mopping floors and cleaning bathrooms
    Indeed Steve. Except of course their under-paid maids, gardeners, nannies, and other poor household help looking to support their families.

    December 1, 2011 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  18. tee66

    I agree it is a raciest comment and Newt Gingrich knows it !

    December 1, 2011 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  19. stevie

    Newt is spot on! The welfare society Democrats created benefits nobody, breaks up families and is killing these poor kids.

    December 1, 2011 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |

    Keep talking Lizard. The wingnut/teabagger trainwreck implosion continues full speed ahead.

    December 1, 2011 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  21. Nash

    I pity those who buy into this right wing garbage. Newt is not just about destroying the middle class, but also making sure children from the poor and middle class families never make it. According to this master plan, enslave the poor an middle and give the rich tax breaks and free benefits paid on the backs of the poor. This the best the right can offer.

    December 1, 2011 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  22. L2Spell

    You guys (and gals) need to learn how to articulate your thoughts.

    Misuse of "your" when it should be "you're".
    >> Oh I forgot, your from the south and want to go back to the days of slavery.

    This one slays me.
    >> This guy is need to think before he speaks.

    Really. Really?

    December 1, 2011 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  23. john

    Let me guess...not one Republican in this list of reponses. How about silly child labor laws that do not allow a farmer's kid to work on the farm until he is 16?

    December 1, 2011 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  24. Jim

    The Child Labor laws are federal laws and not an Amendment. First introduced June 2, 1924 and is still pending before some state lawmakers. Only 28 states have ratified the Amendment. Another 10 would be needed for it to become an Amendment. It was meant to put a stop to sweat shops exploiting children! No one wants to stop kids from mowing lawns or having a paper route.

    What's next Newt, repeal of the 13th Amendment?

    December 1, 2011 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  25. Toni

    That's reight Newt, absolve the parents of all resposnibility. If there were JOBS for low income families then they might be able to provide their children with the example and guidance that you refer to.
    Give the children a chance to grow and learn the proper way, and not let the corporations take advantage of children. Give their parents some self respect by creating jobs for them, not their children!

    December 1, 2011 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
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