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

FIRST ON CNN: Santorum to make large ad buy in South Carolina

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. Woman In California

    The GOP lost me FOR LIFE when they started calling our first half black president "the food stamp president" even BEFORE he was inaugurated. From that point on, I flushed them down the drain and will continue to flush the entire party for the REST OF MY ADULT VOTING LIFE and it does not matter who runs.
    End of story.

    January 6, 2012 06:01 pm at 6:01 pm |
  2. Leila

    The bottom line is, the economy has improved, unemployment is down, and Obama will win re-election. I do thank the Repub clowns for entertaining me with their schtick. I wonder if "the Donald" will throw his hat in the ring for some added humour?

    January 6, 2012 06:02 pm at 6:02 pm |
  3. Me in MN

    I'm sure some of Newt's friends are black. I have it on good authority he's best buds's Thomas! Ha. Knew I'd think of the one.

    January 6, 2012 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
  4. Sniffit

    Yep, 3+ years of GOP/Teatroll hissy fits had nothing to do with Obama being black.

    Sooo, Occam's Razor, Overton's Window and Godwin's Law all walk into a bar.....

    January 6, 2012 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
  5. Larry in Houston

    I don't know why him and Callista Just doesn't go Home – and do the people a favor. His mouth is a big problem, he will probably Implode during the debate on saturday. His history isn't that great in his past, when he was a speaker, they finally had to kick him out – He's got so much baggage to sink 3 aircraft carriers and the carnival cruise line, (no offense to any aircraft carrier, or any cruise line. )

    January 6, 2012 06:07 pm at 6:07 pm |
  6. Conceptual Logic

    Now, I don't know the full situation or build up to this comment. A couple lines in a CNN blog doesn't really give you that, nor should it be trusted to set the comment in the full context.

    All of that being said, he had not reason to put the "race" component in his statement. The overall concept is actually a smart one away from his racial tone to it, which is stupid, immature, and wrong. It's like that proverb "Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime." Welfare members, regardless of their race should be demanding education, training, and the right door ways to jobs (I didn't say hand them a job, but help them get to the door....after that it's up to them.

    January 6, 2012 06:09 pm at 6:09 pm |
  7. Ellene

    What does this guy know about food stamps? He owes money bigtime to Tiffany's for high-end jewelry. He probably thinks food stamps are postage stamps with food pictures on them. And carrots are really carats.

    January 6, 2012 06:10 pm at 6:10 pm |
  8. Woman In California

    And BTW Newt, I EARN my groceries that MIGHT interest you.

    January 6, 2012 06:13 pm at 6:13 pm |
  9. poopmeister

    Programs like food stamps are designed to assist people to get through bad economic situations like the one we are in. In an economy like the one we have, even if someone gets a job, it doesn't guarentee that they wouldn't need the food stamps, in addition, to survive. Cost of living is constantly increasing and the bottom end usually doesn't see an income increase to match it. If Newt wants to focus on a sound bit, maybe he should focus on reforming programs. I know people that get a considerable amount of food stamp money, even though they don't need it at all and I know people that should receive them, yet don't qualify. The system is screwed up and needs common sense reform!

    January 6, 2012 06:15 pm at 6:15 pm |
  10. Mikey

    This idiot is not a racist because he challenges welfare and foodstamps. We should always consider the costs, benefits, and impacts of government programs. However, the fact that Newt and other GOP leaders equate welfare and foodstamp programs with the black community is a sign of racism, or at a minimum, complete ignorance.

    80% of black families are NOT on foodstamps. The majority of welfare recipients are WHITE. MOST eople in poor neighborhoods, even urban or inner-city (code for black, it seems) have jobs and work hard. As I already quoted a late night comic, "What, when you have two jobs does one cancel out the other?" – because that is the only way one could conclude that children in poor neighborhoods have no examples of good habits of work.

    Anyone who doesn't realize that needs to spend some time in poor neighborhoods, so they can have some idea of what the heck they are talking about.

    January 6, 2012 06:15 pm at 6:15 pm |
  11. diridi

    when GE, Ford, GM took tax shelters, evaded billions of dollars, rich did the same, Food stamps, medicare etc, these social programs are nothing...I mean absolutely "NOTHING";. IDIOTS NEED TO LEARN.

    January 6, 2012 06:19 pm at 6:19 pm |
  12. Jamie from Riverside

    Typical Newt. He's defending being a fat stupid bigot.

    January 6, 2012 06:21 pm at 6:21 pm |
  13. batjones

    The reason there are more people on food stamps is because Newt Gingrich neglected to pass legislation that would stop usurious interest rates that have allowed the banks to rob small businesses and leave their accounts with insufficient funds to cash employee pay checks.

    January 6, 2012 06:24 pm at 6:24 pm |
  14. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    The real welfare abusers are elected republicans in Washington DC.

    January 6, 2012 06:25 pm at 6:25 pm |
  15. Hair bear

    We must forgive Newt he's ah angry man right now! His GOP buddies have trashed him and he just cant find his way. As I stated before Newt will tell all the more he talks and we listen America learns a lot! Not just about him but also about his running mates as well! They all have true colors and at some point there true color and beliefs will come out!

    January 6, 2012 06:27 pm at 6:27 pm |
  16. kee

    "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"

    If you think we are nuts....than maybe you should have said it just like this!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    January 6, 2012 06:29 pm at 6:29 pm |
  17. Liberty Queen

    Mr. Serial Divorcer aka Dough-boy aka Blubber Flubber, is a carpetbagging bigoted racist who represents the very system, wall street and corrupt government, that brought this country to its economic knees. BTW, I read the divorce papers that Newt filed against his first wife and it is a fact that Newt was a Deadbeat Dad for months in the beginning of his divorce filing so he could drive his now ex-wife to desperation. What a p r i c. K

    January 6, 2012 06:34 pm at 6:34 pm |
  18. Stacey

    lol! Newt is not stupid but he is an azzhat for sure. Newt and Santorum are shamelessly pandering to the racist elements in their base. They are both disgusting and have no business vying to lead this country.

    January 6, 2012 06:37 pm at 6:37 pm |
  19. T'sah From Virginia

    ginGRINCH and Santorum are trying to insinuate that only "Blah" people are on Food Stamps and receive Public Assistance. Ah, check the stats and you will find out that it's not true.

    Also, now that there is so-called "Welfare Reform", many who are on TANF up to a period of time MUST go out and "work" for it – it's called the "View Program." So while these "white people" are out there trying to put all "Blahs" in one basket, there are "welfare recipients" out there working for PEANUTS – what is it for, $200-300 a month and most likely doing janitorial work, the work ginGRINCH wants them to do – in order to collect that TANF!!!! If they do not have transportation, it's provided.

    The more RIGHT the candidates move – the more WRONG they are. The GRINCH and SANTORUM will NEVER be president of the United States so they should just stop trying!!!

    Obama 2012!!!

    January 6, 2012 06:38 pm at 6:38 pm |
  20. Angy

    typical rethug. blame welfare on the African-Americans. African-Americans have been looking for jobs just like everyone else. you r such a loser. just like the other bunch of rethugs. why don't u just go back under the bedspread w/ your mistress/wife. LOSER!!!!!!!!!!

    January 6, 2012 06:42 pm at 6:42 pm |
  21. Mike in NC

    Newt is a racist, pompous, butt-hole who hopes to stir up controversy with his idiotic remarks. He'll never win the nomination. Maybe he's mad because he has half-black grandkids.

    January 6, 2012 06:42 pm at 6:42 pm |
  22. billman

    Newt is a good man, and would be a great President. Gingrich/Rice 2012!!

    January 6, 2012 06:44 pm at 6:44 pm |
  23. sara

    How did we get to "Blacks and Foodstamps"....??? Please tell me what is the purpose of this statement and that goes for Santorum too. I pity the student who Leroy taught at West Georgia University...they probably never had the facts to base anything on. Blame it on something and someone else, that way you wouldn't know I'm the government Welfare King.

    January 6, 2012 06:48 pm at 6:48 pm |
  24. macrasta

    Paddy, LOL~

    January 6, 2012 06:57 pm at 6:57 pm |
  25. T'sah From Virginia

    ►"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,◄

    OMG – doesn't ginGRINCH know that there are people WORKING – and this is a TRUE and KNOWN fact and the GRINCH also knows it – and the are still eligible for food stamps????????????????????????????????????????? So what is he talking about?????? These candidates – ALL OF THEM – that live on the other side of the track does not even realize that POOR PEOPLE don't want to be POOR!!!!!!

    On top of it all – WHERE ARE THE JOBS?? Most neighborhoods, where poor people live, have no businesses there where they can work!!! I am truly getting so SICK of these candidates!!! They are getting all of the media's attention and all they are doing is HATING. Their goal is very obvious – Destroy the Black community and drive ONE against the OTHER in an effort to try and win their vote??????????????!!! Give me a BREAK!!!

    Please hurry up and make this year be OVER with and then President Obama can go on to do what he needs to do in order to WIN THE FUTURE!!!

    January 6, 2012 07:02 pm at 7:02 pm |
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