Gingrich under fire
December 14th, 2011
08:41 PM ET
11 years ago

Gingrich under fire

Iowa City, Iowa (CNN) - Newt Gingrich is getting a nasty taste of what’s to come.

As the former House speaker stood in a classroom at the University of Iowa and began to detail his vision for a federal brain-science project dedicated to curing Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases, Occupy Iowa City protesters started shouting.

The rowdy disruption lasted for several minutes. One Republican in the room ripped a written speech from the hands of one demonstrator.

But Gingrich eventually seized control of the event as the protesters were led out of the room.

That wasn’t the worst of it. At the end of a question and answer session following Gingrich’s remarks, one man in the crowd attacked the GOP front-runner’s personal life.

“Seems like you have a Ph.D. in cheating on your wife,” the unidentified man said.

It was a bitter end to a day that began with a barrage of attacks from Mitt Romney and his supporters, who are out to blunt Gingrich’s momentum heading into the final weeks before the Iowa caucuses.

The Romney offensive sought to enflame tensions at the top of the Republican field little more than a day after Gingrich issued a plea to his fellow contenders to wage a positive campaign.

But Gingrich would have none of it.

“They should run their campaign the way they want to and I'm going to run my campaign the way I want to,” Gingrich told reporters at a news conference after the University of Iowa event.

Gingrich conceded he was drawn into a war of words with Romney earlier in the week. This time, he said he was not going to take the bait.

“My campaign is going to be focused on positive ideas and positive solutions and I'm frankly taking the gamble that the American people care about solving our country's problems - not just watch politicians beat each other up,” Gingrich added.

Earlier in the day, Romney seemed to question the former speaker’s seriousness as a presidential candidate in an interview with the New York Times.

“Zany is not what we need in a president. It may work on talk radio… But in terms of a president, we need a leader,” Romney told the Times.

The pro-Romney political action committee Restore Our Future was also on the attack. It aired a new negative ad that portrays a Gingrich candidacy as a dream-come-true for Democrats.

“Barack Obama’s plan is working. Destroy Mitt Romney. Run against Newt Gingrich,” the ad states.

Adding to the video onslaught, the Romney campaign released a new web ad that features Gingrich and House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi in their now infamous plea to combat climate change.

When pressed by reporters to respond to Romney’s attacks, even Gingrich's spokesman declined.

“We’re going to stay positive in this campaign,” R.C. Hammond said.

Gingrich, who has ridiculed Occupy Wall Street protesters in the past, offered an olive branch to the protesters who interrupted his speech.

“I’d be glad to talk to them about how to create jobs,” Gingrich said.

It was clearly a different Gingrich on display. The former speaker exhibited restraint, holding back his trademark acid-tongued comebacks.

But the Gingrich confidence could not be contained.

Asked about recent polls that show he poses less of a challenge to President Obama than Romney, Gingrich made a less-than-modest comparison.

“I’m at about where Reagan was with Carter at this stage,” Gingrich said.

Gingrich told reporters he’s looking forward to taking a new bus across Iowa in the next two weeks to make his case to caucus-goers face to face.

As he walked out of the news conference, he told reporters he is still having fun.

Also see:

Romney video ties Gingrich to left

Reid labels Gingrich 'presumptive' nominee

Sen. Rubio for vice president?

Filed under: 2012 • Iowa • Mitt Romney • Newt Gingrich
soundoff (291 Responses)
  1. Chris

    When will this fool go away? I don't believe any American could be stupid enough to vote for this clown, regardless of what the media tells us. I believe his poll numbers are a lie. Gingrich is absolutely self serving and egotistical. If history is any indication his only interest is helping himself.

    December 14, 2011 08:59 pm at 8:59 pm |
  2. maxdenn

    The road to recovery in America? Defeat Gingrich, Romney and the rest of the Tea Party controlled GOP.

    December 14, 2011 09:02 pm at 9:02 pm |
  3. Jason

    I was at the Gingrich talk today in Iowa City. The protesters embarrassed themselves and did nothing to further the liberal cause. If anything, their behavior made me lean a bit more to the right. Gingrich has many faults but he handled the situation with class.

    December 14, 2011 09:03 pm at 9:03 pm |
  4. maxdenn

    Romney says Gingrich is "zany". Mr. Romney. You're both zany.

    December 14, 2011 09:07 pm at 9:07 pm |
  5. Ben Dover

    Don't worry Pillsbury...It's going to get worse.

    December 14, 2011 09:11 pm at 9:11 pm |
  6. vic , nashville ,tn

    2012 all about “Trust”

    December 14, 2011 09:13 pm at 9:13 pm |
  7. Sam I Am

    It's hard to teach an old dog a new trick. My question is, on average what dose Newt stand for?
    If Newt did become President he would be restrained somewhat by Congress. Its not like he would be Dictator.

    December 14, 2011 09:15 pm at 9:15 pm |
  8. Clwyd

    Rip up their speeches as much as you want! They will have your heads soon!

    December 14, 2011 09:16 pm at 9:16 pm |
  9. Cody

    Bahahaha poor republicans being force fed Romney/Gingrich.

    I almost feel bad for them... almost

    December 14, 2011 09:22 pm at 9:22 pm |
  10. Bammer

    I bet Gingrich is having fun, taking all those campaign donations to pay off his debts. Just wait and see. Once a snake in the grass, always a snake in the grass.

    December 14, 2011 09:25 pm at 9:25 pm |
  11. Alex

    Gingrich is a such a clown, along with the rest of the conservative base. They have a real shot to give Obama a fight and NEWT is the best they can come up with. Hey, its not bothering me, im voting for Obama no matter what.

    This shows up far the America has fallen over the years. A Man like NEWT has a shot at being president. This guy is as crazy as they come. Probably in the same category as Donald Trump.

    December 14, 2011 09:28 pm at 9:28 pm |
  12. Tony Torres

    It is so sad that our Republican candidates seem to pander to the ultra right (Tea party people), who said they speak for all of us. They must stop being afraid to be who they really are. Really Gingrich, are you out of your minds.

    December 14, 2011 09:32 pm at 9:32 pm |
  13. 100% ETHI

    The 2012 elected President is yielding to the Right, according to the above picture. Therefore, according to my predicted PRESIDENT ALMANAC, he got it Right.

    December 14, 2011 09:41 pm at 9:41 pm |
  14. USNavysquid

    Ambition trumps civility.

    December 14, 2011 09:51 pm at 9:51 pm |
  15. Dixie AZ

    Disparage the protesters, Newt. They're voters, but I don't think they want the same old Republican rhetoric that you spout. Run a clean campaign. You can avoid all of the embarrassing questions about your past life –personal and political - if you just smile and say you're running a tidy campaign as you walk away. And zany is the perfect description for you. Mining on the moon?

    December 14, 2011 10:02 pm at 10:02 pm |
  16. Keith in Austin

    All GOP candidates are being savaged by the DNC and among themselves. The GOOD NEWS is that the ultimate Nominee will be STRONGER for it! Obama is a total FAILURE and informed voters know it! People vote on their pocketbooks and thanks to Bozo and Liberal spendaholics, those pocketbooks
    are almost empty!

    December 14, 2011 10:03 pm at 10:03 pm |
  17. me

    Good bye Newt.

    December 14, 2011 10:04 pm at 10:04 pm |
  18. The King

    Two scenarios:
    1) newt wins the primary, he continues his inflamatory rhetoric he's regurgitated the last month. The Independents, and swing voters vote 90% Obama. Obama wins in a landslide.
    2) mitt wins the primary, he swings back toward the middle contradicting everything he's said since he's been trying to woo the baggers. GOP voter turnout is lowest in 50 years. Obama wins in a landslide.
    President Obama has this election sewed up.

    December 14, 2011 10:11 pm at 10:11 pm |
  19. rhumba

    So if a republican doesn't like what the opposition has to say, that republican steals his speech and attempts to deny the opposition's freedom of speech? So much for loving the Constitution and respecting the Founding Fathers,

    December 14, 2011 10:16 pm at 10:16 pm |
  20. Gingrich is under fire

    a lot less now than he will be if he becomes the nominee... and he will not survive that onslaught. Select Gingrich as the nominee and you have selected Obama for 2012.

    December 14, 2011 10:28 pm at 10:28 pm |
  21. They ought to change from the elephant to the hippo...

    Of course you're having fun, Newt! You have no expectations, are still fleecing the sheep, and people (the foolish ones) are paying attention to you. I'm sure you're laughing all the way to the bank, not unlike many of the other flavor of the month Repos...

    December 14, 2011 10:30 pm at 10:30 pm |
  22. Big John

    Gingrich, Romney or Obama, it won't matter. The whole election process has become the Grandaddy of all Ponzi schemes. Invest your vote and sell the country to China, one factory at a time.

    December 14, 2011 10:39 pm at 10:39 pm |
  23. medianone

    Newt is playing the crowd like a master entertainer. Imagine the money he will make on the circuit next year, or selling his 'tell all' book, or consulting for whatever deep pockets he can attract. He sure as heck won't get to the election with his tax package proposal. It is like Perry's tax plan only on steroids or some mind altering drug. It is obvious he is not serious about the Presidency. More a sparring partner to toughen Mitt up for the big event. Newt knows there is way more money to be had/made by selling notoriety rather than serving.

    December 14, 2011 10:42 pm at 10:42 pm |
  24. T'sah from Virginia

    ► Gingrich under fire◄
    Hanging on the wire
    Being slaughtered from every front
    It’s “killing him” to be less arrogant
    But we all know what ginGRINCH is about
    He’s going to EXPLODE without a doubt
    And the gas he emits will be a trillion times seven
    And we’ll all die from it and go to heaven
    (And this is 2012 when the world is supposed to end… brought to you by the GRINCH!!) 🙂

    Obama 2012!!!

    December 14, 2011 10:47 pm at 10:47 pm |
  25. The Left Wing

    As each of the Republican bases candidates has come to the top, they have wilted under the scrutiny. The people the base really liked, Palin, Trump, Bachmann, Perry and Cain, were not capable of being President or running a campaign. The base did not seem to be aware of the shortcomings of these people initially, and it took press exposure and scrutiny for them to realize it. So, now they turned to Newt, a man whose baggage has baggage as they say. I think they perceived correctly that he would be more articulate than those that came before him. The questions I now hare are 1) was the base fully aware of his baggage and 2) would it get extensive coverage in the press. The press doesn't like to cover old stories too much. However, we now see that a few on the left will bring it to the front, but the real attacks will come from the right. So now we see attacks from a few social conservative, the other candidates and some of the Republican establishment. Since the base is running out of possible candidates, it will be fascinating to see how they respond. The Republican base surely hates Romney and Obama. How hard will they fight for the deeply flawed Gingrich given the alternatives?

    December 14, 2011 11:07 pm at 11:07 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12