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. Randy, San Francisco

    The GOP/Tea Party voters are infatuated with losers who can't win the White House. The only two real serious contenders, Romney and Huntsman, can't pass the conservative social religious family values purity test because they are Mormons.

    December 15, 2011 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  2. The Real Tom Paine

    steve, good luck with that sentiment. With Obama pulling away in key states like VA, its unlkely your fantasy will happen.

    December 15, 2011 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  3. billy

    Republicans have nothing. They've intentionally catered to the lowest, most ignorant of their electorate and now they are surprised when the lowest, most ignorant candidates lead their party.

    December 15, 2011 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  4. Gurgi

    Fortunately the various opinions of liberal people does not really count for anything on this matter, as they will not vote for a republican anyway. Thus they can be ignored.

    December 15, 2011 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  5. BOBBY

    "It was clearly a different Gingrich on display. " ya so what's new

    December 15, 2011 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  6. The Real Tom Paine

    Keeping It Real, you must have hated the Tea Party, then: toting guns to rallies, stomping on people at Rand Paul rallies, spitting adn screaming racial slurs at black members of Congress.....yes, all that violence( both real and implied) was ok when perpetrated by your side, eh?

    December 15, 2011 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  7. Yester Day

    Newt's so cute !

    He's like a big, chubby six year old with white hair, that blurts out whatever he's thinking at that second.

    I know a kid just like him.

    December 15, 2011 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  8. jim

    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!"

    I'm doing pretty well right now personally. I'll be fine even if/when there is a tax hike. Perhaps you should consider your own errors in your personal finances before blaming others.

    December 15, 2011 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  9. Larry in Houston

    @ Ben – Thanks for Your Comment !! I Totally Agree !!! + You're right on everything in your Post !!

    December 15, 2011 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  10. Sandy

    Does everyone have their popcorn for tonight's debate?

    December 15, 2011 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  11. colazo1948

    I wish I could hear more from John Huntsman he seems to me the only serious and with the more knowledge candidate out of this bunch of clowns in that group.
    It just seems to me that the rest of 'em are just auditioning or be noticed for Dancing with the Stars for next year.

    December 15, 2011 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  12. gg

    republicans know how to create jobs alright–its called war

    December 15, 2011 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  13. Dave Harris

    Newt's misstep here, once again, is trying to do something good. Republicans don't want a cure for brain diseases, they want more people to die of them so they can take their money. In the demented Republican universe, doing anything good for anybody is a capital crime. Newt needs to get with the program.

    December 15, 2011 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  14. DaveSEMass


    If it's "most likely Newt", he's going to have to make up a 10% gap in the most recent (right-leaning) Rasmussen poll. I think Obama's campaign is much more worried about Huntsman.

    December 15, 2011 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  15. JJ

    Oh brother. The man is pathetic. The entire field of GOP candidates is pathetic. They don't stand a chance in hell of getting into the White House except maybe with an invitation for a tour from Obama as a consolation prize.

    December 15, 2011 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  16. Non sequitor

    Dont the stupid OWS goofballs realize that Gingrich is the dream opponent for Obama. Way to shoot yourself in the foot, OWS.

    December 15, 2011 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  17. Ray E. (Georgia)

    The OWS "Morons" want hand outs without working for it. Good luck on that one. All the problems that exist in the country are still here. The 15.5 Trillion Dollar Debt is no joke. Someone needs to take charge. The "Community Organizer" is voting present too many times. After 75 years of Big Social Programs that have all failed the "Grinch" has arrived. The "Annointed One" is still Fiddleing while Rome burns. Many voted aginst themselves in the last Election. How will you vote next election? More Food Stamps? More Welfare? More Unemployment?

    December 15, 2011 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  18. MTATL67

    Stay positive. Positive towards whom the other candidates? Telling protester in OWS to take a bath and get a job is not positive. Mr. Gingrich and the other GOP candidates fail to realize is that the thousands of protesters in the OWS movement are also voters. The folk in the OWS that I speak with tell me that they will not forget Newt's and the other GOP candidates comments when they walk into the voting booth in 2012.

    December 15, 2011 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  19. jim

    John B
    "The only thing better than "Gingrich under fire" would be "Gingrich ON fire". I'm betting I'm not the only one who feels this way."

    I second the motion!

    December 15, 2011 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  20. jim

    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!"

    I'm personally doing quite well right now. I'll be fine if/when they raise taxes. Perhaps you should consider your own failings with your personal finances before blaming others.

    December 15, 2011 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  21. SuperD

    These comments are down right amazing.

    What you Liberals don't seem to grasp is this. President Obama is VERY unpopular now. I believe any Republican could win against this sham of a man – Manchurian candidate. Obama has nothing to run on, NOTHING, everyone is broke, nobody has a job, and you think average Americans are going to keep that guy? Are you NUTS?

    You better start listening to Newt and what he is saying. I could care less about his baggage, for goodness sakes, if Obama had been properly vetted, he would never president in the first place! Obama is forty times the radical Newt is, and you know deep in your progressive, sick hearts that Newt is going to clobber a stuttering Obama in the debates.

    December 15, 2011 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  22. Charlie from the North

    He has sowed the wind and he shall reap the whirlwind. Couldn't happen to a better sob. He started this recent round of incivility back in the 1980s and he is getting a heavy dose of it now.

    December 15, 2011 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  23. JohnM


    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 |
    How did you manage to lean any further when you were already lying horizontal on the floor?

    December 15, 2011 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  24. EffortPA

    If Gingrich were to be elected president, you can count on a new war with Iran. By the end of his four years, we would have spent around 400 billion of dollars and we would have lost about 2,000 American lives. With a little luck, we would elect a Democrat to replace him who would spend the next 4 years trying to get us out of that war that Gingrich started. By the time that happens we would be approaching a trillion dollar expense and probably about 4,000 American lives. If he were to be elected for another four years, you can pretty much double the cost and the number of American lives lost before we elect a Democrat is finally able to get us out.

    December 15, 2011 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  25. Truth and Nothing But the Truth

    OWS has turned into a lawless mob, out of control leftists and anarchists. Nice that the Democrats have embraced them.

    December 15, 2011 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
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