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. Phil in KC

    On the whole, Iowa is a fairly moderate state. Some places are conservative and some are liberal. Unfortunately for Newt, he chose to give a speech in one of the most liberal locations in the state. In his defense (something I very rarely say), he did choose a very logical location for the subject of his speech. University of Iowa Hospital is a top-notch facility at the forefront of medical advances.

    December 15, 2011 09:30 am at 9:30 am |
  2. v_mag

    The primary system is another freebie we give the rich. It allows them to save money by running campaigns in small states, which eventually forces the other states to accept them as presidential candidates of major parties. If they had to run simultaneously in all states, they could not afford to take positions that pander to tea-vangelicals but are unpopular in the country as a whole.

    Why do we put up with this "system", the Electoral College, corporate campaign funding, and gerrymandering of congressional districts? Those things kill democracy and make your vote worthless.

    December 15, 2011 09:37 am at 9:37 am |
  3. fudgemonkey

    I'm never first. Gingrich is a tool.

    December 15, 2011 09:38 am at 9:38 am |
  4. Tex71

    "One Republican in the room ripped a written speech from the hands of one demonstrator." Let's see if the (R) in question is charged with assault, like any of the demonstrators would have been if one had ripped a speech from Gingrich's hands. The way things have played out in the past few years, it is surprising the demonstrator wasn't dragged out in cuffs and beaten by hired goons.

    December 15, 2011 09:40 am at 9:40 am |
  5. Pat W

    Mitt is too slick. Newt is too zany. Rick is too dumb. Ron is too radical. NEXT!!

    December 15, 2011 09:41 am at 9:41 am |
  6. sayer

    Id stay positive too if I had a bunch of baggage I didn't want to talk about. Let's see how positive he is about Obama!

    December 15, 2011 09:41 am at 9:41 am |
  7. detada

    The acid tongue did not go away. It only went into temporary hibernation. Gringrich's pleas to run a "positive campaign" will assure him the nomination if the rest of the field complies. I'm not sure they have the brains to figure that out.

    December 15, 2011 09:43 am at 9:43 am |
  8. AEK

    Nasty little tricks learned from the Tea Party during the last Congressional elections. How does it feel now that the shoe is on the other foot, boys!

    December 15, 2011 09:43 am at 9:43 am |
  9. The Little Head

    I grew up in the same Northern Virginia neighborhood that the Newtster moved to when he first arrived on the hill. His kids were traumatized by his extra marital activity. We used to actually feel sorry for them in High School if that is imaginable.

    I am glad Newt has made amends with the Christian Right, I wonder if he has made amends with his kids or if the Christian Right gives a damn about what he did versus what he says.....

    December 15, 2011 09:44 am at 9:44 am |
  10. William

    Newt is a mean spirited (just ask the people who served in congress with him), womanizing, say anything, do anything, political savy, unethical, life-long political hack who has an ego unmatched in our lifetime.

    December 15, 2011 09:45 am at 9:45 am |
  11. anagram_kid

    It is only a matter of time before Newt goes negative. It is his nature and let’s face it, he has very little self control and is extremely undisciplined. One only has to look at his personal life and midsection to see that Newt is someone who will always succumb to what makes Newt feel good. Since his favorite activity is attempting to make himself look good at the expense of others, he will only be able to contain himself for so long before he erupts.

    December 15, 2011 09:47 am at 9:47 am |
  12. joseph w. ryder

    Every candidate has a list of I promise YOU, makes a liar out of everyone who promises. This country needs a man with a little dirt under his fingernails, not a degree to show just how smart they are and all have a few they want to satisfy mostly themselves. How many would run and if elected one dollar a year salary? Gingrich has to answer sooner or later to questions ask of him if he wants to stay in the contest, if no answers stay out of the debates. He as the rest of them carry baggage to fill a government transport and act as if it doesn't Matter. it does. Religious people have to weight the baggage if the man upstairs says no how can they say YES/

    December 15, 2011 09:47 am at 9:47 am |
  13. Lindsey

    LOL. Newt will crack before it's all over. His massive ego will never allow him to take criticism. From ANYone. He's demonstrated restraint up to this point. Admirable. But his nature is to be a blowsy, conceited, petty, adulterous, lying piece of horse manure. I fully expect the "real Newt" to surface before Iowans go to their caucuses. This should be a ball to watch!

    December 15, 2011 09:48 am at 9:48 am |
  14. PhilG

    I notice there were no 9 year olds protesting at the event. They were all in their schools cleaning the bathrooms, right Newt?

    December 15, 2011 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  15. Nathan

    Newt is the most corrupt man to ever run for the office of President of the United States. We surelly are on the decline as a nation if the Republican Party is seriously considering nominating this "man". I hang my head in shame when I see the mockery the conservative movement is making out of our political process. Do they realize that those dozens of children they go to fertilization clinics to have are actually little sponges, they take in everything their parents do? What kind of future will the human race have if we teach our children that lying is an acceptable form of communication? That greed is good? That Jesus was a capitalist?


    December 15, 2011 09:52 am at 9:52 am |
  16. awdam

    I cant wait until the public has had enough of these looser's and just beat them into the hospitals and morgues!

    December 15, 2011 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
  17. Michael in Houston

    I assume that the evangelicals and those on the right who preached incessantly about the morals of President Clinton that made him so unworthy for office that they felt we needed to impeach him, will now stand together and loudly with that SAME conviction, reject Gingrich absolutely. But wait...we hear nothing. Not a peep. Only crickets. Proving once again the evangelicals and the right are a collection of hypocrits. I dont whats worse...Gingrich, who led the impeachment of Clinton while at the same time was up to his own shenanigans, or the evangelicals and right who are now silent. Talk about utter hypocrisy.

    December 15, 2011 09:59 am at 9:59 am |

    Hey Newt! WE ARE THE 99%. We are everywhere. There is no place you can go and won't find us. You have a Ph.D. in B.S.

    December 15, 2011 10:03 am at 10:03 am |
  19. phyllis

    Please do not let this man,go any further in this race.......he has not changed, he is just hiding his true self, to win this nomination of the republican party..........I had rather see Ron Paul get the nomination............wolf in sheep clothing........

    I will vote for President Obama..........he is worthy.........and a good man..........good husband and Father......peace out.

    December 15, 2011 10:08 am at 10:08 am |
  20. Sniffit

    "Gingrich under fire"

    Man, just change that preposition and we could've been celebrating in the streets.

    December 15, 2011 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  21. Sniffit

    "“My campaign is going to be focused on positive ideas and positive solutions"

    Yes, enacting an unrealistic, ideologically stilted tax reform plan that would gut the federal government and screw the middle class by redistribute all the wealth in the nation upwards an at an even faster rate than is already occurring: "positive."

    December 15, 2011 10:12 am at 10:12 am |
  22. Sniffit

    "From what I can see America is lining up behind him as they listen to his vision of the future. "

    Peering through a looking glass will do that.

    December 15, 2011 10:12 am at 10:12 am |
  23. Sniffit

    "One Republican in the room ripped a written speech from the hands of one demonstrator."

    Assault. File a complaint at the local police station.

    December 15, 2011 10:13 am at 10:13 am |
  24. Sniffit

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

    Haha...speaknig of through the looking glass...

    December 15, 2011 10:15 am at 10:15 am |
  25. Lynda/Minnesota

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

    Yep. Sold 3 more books, he did. And, very proud of himself he was, too.

    December 15, 2011 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
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