Gingrich defends food stamp comment
January 6th, 2012
05:12 PM ET
11 years ago

Gingrich defends food stamp comment

Newport, New Hampshire (CNN) – GOP presidential candidate Newt Gingrich is standing by a recent statement interpreted as racially insensitive prompting reaction from a major civil rights organization.

"And so I'm prepared, if the NAACP invites me, I'll go to their convention to talk about why the African-American community should demand paychecks and not be satisfied with food stamps," Gingrich said Thursday.

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The NAACP, responding to reports about the line in the speech, said the former speaker's comment is "problematic on several fronts."

"It is a shame that the former Speaker feels that these types of inaccurate, divisive statements are in any way helpful to our country," said President and CEO Benjamin Todd Jealous in a written statement.

The quote in question came from a speech in Plymouth, New Hampshire when Gingrich was laying out his "food stamps versus paychecks" argument, a frequent topic on the stump when he talks about President Barack Obama's liberal policies and the need for change.

On the campaign trail Gingrich often argues that more people are on food stamps under the Obama administration and that he would pursue policies that get people back to work. He has previously labeled Obama a "food stamp president."

Jealous charged Gingrich of feeding a stereotype. "The majority of people using food stamps are not African-American, and most people using food stamps have a job," he said in the statement.

The former speaker believes his comment Thursday has been taken out of context.

"I think you would have to be nuts to read those two paragraphs and conclude anything except that I was saying that every young American deserves the right to pursue happiness. Every young American deserves a chance to have a job. Every neighborhood in America deserves a chance to have pay checks instead of food stamps," he said.

Gingrich added that this is another example of being labeled a racist for challenging government entitlements such as welfare, which he said he will continue pursuing "even if it makes liberals uncomfortable."

"And for the life of me I can't understand why having a conservative Republican who cares about young people having jobs should be seen as such a terrible idea or should be seen as somehow a racist characterization," he told reporters.

In addition to talking his food-stamp-vs.-paycheck argument on the stump, Gingrich often talks about speaking to the NAACP, as well as other groups, in an effort to reach out to all Americans.

Based on previous experience with Gingrich, the NAACP is not so convinced.

"We invited Speaker Gingrich to attend our annual convention several times when he was Speaker of the House, but he declined to join us," Jealous continued. "If he is invited again, I hope that he would come, with the intention to unite rather than divide."

The Gingrich campaign was unable to confirm or deny Jealous' assertion because they didn't have on hand the former speaker's schedule from the '90s.

– Follow Shawna Shepherd on Twitter: @ShepherdCNN

Also see:

Huntsman hits Romney ahead of N.H. primary

Boston Globe backs Huntsman

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Santorum tangles with Gingrich, same-sex marriage supporters

McCain courting former South Carolina backers for Romney

Filed under: 2012 • New Hampshire • Newt Gingrich
soundoff (118 Responses)
  1. Paddy

    Newt is a hateful white man who misses his Aunt Jemima tucking him in at night.

    January 6, 2012 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  2. Shaniqua

    Foo on Newt. He a fool.

    January 6, 2012 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  3. Sorensen

    It does not matter what the old, "catholic" adulterer says about anything. He has zero credibility anywhere except
    with his geriatric barbie. And even that is probably fading.

    January 6, 2012 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  4. Logic in LA

    Ironically it was under Newt's reign that the laws changed that caused our financial collapse. So the fact that more people needed assistance is really his fault , not Obama's! And why do politicians think Americans are so stupid that we would believe that more people on food stamps during a recession is a policy decision and not a factor of the economy? Again- an economy brought to it's knees by his House of Representatives and then continued under Bush.

    January 6, 2012 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  5. I. Hashimoto

    Um.. I truly hope and pray Newt wins over Romney so Obama can Serve a second term. Keep up the good work Newt -no-brain. Or get your facts straight: Whites accounted for 34.4 percent of food-stamp recipients in 2009, compared to blacks who accounted for 21.4 percent of recipients, according to an October 2010 government report.

    January 6, 2012 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  6. Sniffit

    "I'll go to their convention to talk about why the African American community should demand pay checks and not be satisfied with food stamps"

    41% of food stamp recipients are white. That is the plurality. 36% are black, 18% hispanic and the rest is comprised of various other ethnic/racial groups. So, again, here we have the GOP/Teatrolls' chosen leaders promulgating and perpetuating the misperception by their base and the rest of the voting public that black people are the primary recipients of federal social assistance programs. Kudos, bigots.

    January 6, 2012 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  7. gt

    shhhhhhh...dont tell the truth ...people really dont want to work....they want the government to do everything for them...

    January 6, 2012 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  8. Dude in Colorado

    I have said it before and I'll say it again: Newt Gingrich is the GOP's answer to Don Rickles! The Republican "Mr. Warmth-and-Sincerity"... LMAO

    January 6, 2012 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  9. Lula in CA

    This man is just mean down to his bones. If this is what being a "Republican" is about, then shame on all of you who call yourselve that.

    January 6, 2012 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  10. Dave

    You're a mean one, Mr. Grinch

    January 6, 2012 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  11. ThinkAgain

    First Newt's idea to employ inner city kids as janitors (because they don't live around folks with a "work ethic" – HA!) and now he assumes all Black people are receiving food stamps.

    FACT: 61% of welfare recipients are White; 33% are Black.
    FACT: 34% of food stamp recipients are White; 23% are Black.

    For a guy who thinks he's the be-all-and-end-all because he's an "historian," Newt sure doesn't know much about anything – other than to make dog-whistle remarks to the racist Republican base.

    January 6, 2012 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  12. Lost in Texas FOREVER

    ok so now I guess it's only African-Americans that get food stamps huh? Well I was at the store the other day here in Texas and the woman ahead of me paying for food was NOT AA and she was using food stamps. Newt acts like he cares so much about the poor and he really doesn't. Like having poor kids clean the johns in public schools to teach them about working. Doesn't matter that the job they could be taking might be that of a parent who is a breadwinner. I know right wingers don't care much for facts but do a GOOGLE search and find out the groups that are REALLY on welfare in this country. I did and I was surprised.

    January 6, 2012 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  13. kenny

    Newt is a "Hoot".

    January 6, 2012 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  14. Independent_me

    Does Newt or Santorum know that more Whites get food stamps than Blacks or Latinos? How come they don't direct these types of comments to Whites???

    January 6, 2012 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  15. Hearing you in Nebraska

    Yup, that's exactly right Logic!

    January 6, 2012 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  16. When they open their mouths, they insert a foot

    Know what's bad? Given the absolutely wretched field of GOP candidates, Newt is the only one who has so many skeletons out of the closet that you can think he's an moralistic jerk and complete asshat before he even opens his mouth.

    January 6, 2012 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  17. The Greedy Old Pigs have declared class war on US!

    Newt sure knows how to spin the typical GOBP talking points manure, all while ignoring reality.

    January 6, 2012 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  18. DENNA

    Uh, Newt, if I am not mistaken, Black america HAS been looking of jobs and not handouts. Actually, if Black americans had jobs, you and your ilk would lose your wedge-devisive issue of "lazy, welfare collecting folks". I am sure that there are quite a few blacks who could do your job, whatever it is you do.

    January 6, 2012 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  19. Arch

    who cares what the fat old chickenhawk has to say. and to think, teabaggers think this guy is smart. so much for home-schooling.

    January 6, 2012 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |
  20. 1crusader

    If Gingrich was sincere, he would go to the NAACP or find some other venue to talk about this, in a dignified, respectful way; rather than being demeaning by spouting t these statements in front of right-wing groups.Furthermore, black people are not the only people on welfare and food stamps.there are many people on public aid ( most of them white) because of the economy that the president inherited.

    January 6, 2012 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
  21. Peter

    Yep. The true conservative, alright. Insensitive bigot who believes poor children should all get jobs cleaning toilets and being janitors. Why not jobs working in libraries or helping fund raise? The idea is to keep the poor down where the rich need them. the question is whether or not the electorate is going to stand for this offensive kind of thing.

    January 6, 2012 05:56 pm at 5:56 pm |
  22. MBG

    Newt LEROY Gingrich needs to go in a corner and stay quiet for the rest of his remaining life. For the "life of me I can't understand" how he can spew divisive non-facts and then say that he didn't say anything inappropriate. I would never vote for such a foolish little man.

    January 6, 2012 05:56 pm at 5:56 pm |
  23. Leila

    Rotund Newt looks like he receives food stamps. Why does he care if another person has a meal? He looks to me like an overstuffed troll.

    January 6, 2012 05:58 pm at 5:58 pm |
  24. Mary

    Doesn't it just irritate you when politicians say things and then accuse the viewers of misunderstanding them or taking their words out of context? It's like, "Dude, don't insult my intelligence. I know what I heard and I didn't misunderstand anything."

    January 6, 2012 05:59 pm at 5:59 pm |
  25. Tony

    "And so I'm prepared, if the NAACP invites me, I'll go to their convention to talk about why the African American community should demand pay checks and not be satisfied with food stamps," Gingrich said.

    What about poor whites? Most of the poor in America are white (in number, not percentage). Where do poor whites go to demand that the government takes away their food stamps? They can't go to the Republican Party. The Republican Party ignores all poor– white, black, or any other races.

    January 6, 2012 05:59 pm at 5:59 pm |
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