December 7th, 2013
12:45 PM ET
8 years ago

Gingrich pushes back against Mandela critics

Updated 10:36 a.m. ET, 12/9/2013

Washington (CNN) - Newt Gingrich is fighting back against conservative critics who attacked the former Speaker of the House and co-host of CNN's "Crossfire" for his praise of Nelson Mandela.

After Mandela passed away Thursday, Gingrich posted a statement, praising him as "one of the greatest leaders of our lifetime."

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The right-wing response was overwhelmingly reproachful.

"Such an amazing re-write of history since 1962 and 1990. Newt, I thought you of all people, a historian, would be true to who this guy really was," Mike Winkelman posted on Gingrich's Facebook page.

"This clenched-fist, murdering, gorilla warrior does not deserve respect from informed Americans," posted Trish Baehr-Schaefer.

There were several others posts, many generating dozens of "likes," and some with language unfit for publication.

Republican Sen. Ted Cruz, congressional Democrats to commemorate Mandela in South Africa

Gingrich said Monday that people were confusing Mandela's role with the African National Congress and that most of the violence by the ANC happened while Mandela was in prison.

On the other side of the political spectrum, he said on CNN's "New Day" that some liberals were going "overboard in trying to excuse this as an attempt to attack (Ronald) Reagan." Gingrich noted that Reagan was the one who appointed the first black ambassador to South Africa.

"There's a lot of anger on the right about this opportunity being used inappropriately," he said

He added that Mandela was "deeply committed to a nonviolent approach, until you had a South African dictatorship...which made it impossible to have anything that was purely nonviolent."

In a statement Saturday, he compared Mandela to the Founding Fathers and the farmers who took up arms at Lexington and Concord in the Revolutionary War. He praised the former South African president for his calls for reconciliation, his Christian faith and his turn from Communism to opening South Africa up to free enterprise.

"I was very surprised by it," Gingrich said Sunday CNN's "State of the Union" about the backlash.

"Callista posted my statement on her Facebook page and was amazed at some of the intensity, some of whom came back three, four and five times, repeating how angry they were."

Gingrich has a long history as a Mandela supporter. During the Reagan administration, he was among the many Republicans in Congress who pressured the president to impose sanctions on the apartheid regime.

Fellow conservative Ted Cruz faced a similar backlash this week when he posted a respectful tribute to Mandela that generated angry criticisms. No comment yet from the Texas senator on the reaction of some of his supporters.

The freshman Senator from Texas, however, will be one of two Republicans who join a Congressional delegation to attend a memorial for Mandela in South Africa this week. President Barack Obama and other former presidents are also slated to attend.

"Frankly, without being partisan, I hope the President brings some of the spirit back with him," Gingrich said on "New Day." "Maybe he and the Congress can sit down more in the spirit of Mandela and actually listen to each other for a while."

- CNN's Conor Finnegan and Ashley Killough contributed to this report.

Filed under: Nelson Mandela • Newt Gingrich
soundoff (361 Responses)
  1. Tampa Tim

    Newt is just now finding out that right wingnuts are crazy?

    December 7, 2013 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  2. Cathy

    I agree with Newt on this one. It's so easy to criticize when you haven't a clue what you're talking about and only listen to the hate and propaganda spewed. Mandela was a great man, so stuff that in your tea-bagged shorts and chew on it!

    December 7, 2013 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  3. Hector Slagg

    Has anyone written a history of South Africa? Not sure but I believe European's went to south Africa at the same time they came to America. And just like America the settler's in South Africa began the long process of improving the lives of all the natives. So a lot of people un named, un known, forgotten that helped Mandela become a world figure will never get any recognition to speak of. Here Martin Luther King get's all kind of kudos but President Lincoln hardly any.

    December 7, 2013 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  4. emskadittle

    it is crazy that the same people that yell the loudest about the 2nd amendment rights are attacking Mandelas memory because he used force in attempt to take down an oppressive government. Who is the real Patriot

    December 7, 2013 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  5. Luc Zagbo

    What amazes me as always it is that the oppressor always asks the oppressed when the latter fights back that he/she should forgive him. Today, Israel is oppressing the Palestinian people, but tomorrow when Palestine gets the upper hand, there will be call for forgiveness.

    December 7, 2013 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  6. simplyput

    When it comes to historical comparison and contrast, few do it better than Newt.

    December 7, 2013 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  7. Vence

    The most scary thing for a republicans besides Obama is "change". Fortunately the president made it to his second term and the second one in inevitable. They fail miserably on both!

    December 7, 2013 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  8. tammyk tammy

    Nelson Mandela greatly influenced my political development as a young person in the 1980s which is why I chose to become a Democrat. Apartheid represented not only racist division, but conservative economic oppression designed to funnel wealth to a small portion of the population. Sound familiar America? Contrary to the Christian message that all people deserve kindness and respect as God's children, the faux christian conservative mindset is based on going to church on Sunday and then loving wealth and hoarding their precious money from others for the remainder of the week. As Mark Twain succinctly put it when writing about so called christians who practiced racism and wondering if heaven would be segregated - this group hates that group and that group hates this group, but when they all get to heaven, they will all just hug and hug and hug.

    December 7, 2013 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  9. rs

    Good for Gingrich- only fools prattle the Mandela as terrorist nonsense.

    December 7, 2013 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  10. tammyk tammy

    The right wing conservatives only hate oppression when it oppresses their right to oppress others. Anyone who dares to speak out, fight back, or vote against them will be labeled a mad dog socialist communist progressive liberal terrorist.

    December 7, 2013 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  11. exceptionalamericans

    The founding fathers didn't pour gasoline in tires and set them ablaze while hanging around men, women, and children's necks.

    December 7, 2013 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  12. Rick McDaniel

    When government does the wrong things, it is up to the citizens, to use whatever means they have to, to oppose tyranny in government, including rebellion.

    Those who do not recognize that, need only wait, to see that this country, is already on that same path, and it will take the people to stop the tyranny of this government, as well.

    December 7, 2013 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  13. Gary

    Grab the popcorn, sit back, put your feet up and watch them eat their own.

    December 7, 2013 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  14. wendel

    the repos can't get it together. Finally seeing the mess they have created in their own party. Nut jobs one and all.

    December 7, 2013 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  15. NC

    Republicans really do eat their own.

    December 7, 2013 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  16. Name will

    Yeah....they let the citizens do it to our people

    December 7, 2013 05:59 pm at 5:59 pm |
  17. ak_steve

    RW = Right Wing.
    RW = Racist Whites.
    RW = Religious Wachos.
    RW = Republican Whiners.

    December 7, 2013 06:03 pm at 6:03 pm |
  18. Rusty Krus

    @Hector Slagg
    Here Martin Luther King get's all kind of kudos but President Lincoln hardly any.

    You are either insane, stupid or blinded by hate.

    December 7, 2013 07:14 pm at 7:14 pm |
  19. Jeff Brown in Jersey

    Is it a surprise that the party of the deep south and mid west rednecks would not embrace Mandela's legacy? Wake up blacks and Latinos... The GOP is NOT your friend.

    December 7, 2013 07:16 pm at 7:16 pm |
  20. Fred Griswold

    I think Mandela was one of the great men of the age. He had a matchless ability to maintain his composure in the face of adversity. It's hard to think of anyone else in modern political life who even comes close. Kennedy comes to mind. Kennedy said, "We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard..." and "Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country." He was not afraid to give you the bad news. How many politicians today would say a thing like that?

    December 7, 2013 07:26 pm at 7:26 pm |
  21. ThinkAgain

    I've read where some folks (including South Carolina Pickens County sheriff Rick Clark) have balked at President Obama's request to fly the flag at half-staff in honor of Nelson Madela. Contrary to what these folks think, the president has the authority to direct the flag be flown at half-staff for the death of foreign dignitaries. Up until today, it has never been contested.

    And it is unprecedented to do so. In 1981, President Reagan ordered the flag be flown at half-staff for Anwar Sadat, president of Egypt and a Muslim! (gasp) Clinton did the same to honor Yitzhak Rabin, prime minister of Israel in 1995 after his unfortunate assassination. He did so again in 1999 for King Hussein of Jordan. GW Bush gave the order for Pope John Paul II.

    Just wanted to put these facts out there ...

    December 7, 2013 07:37 pm at 7:37 pm |
  22. Iamnotfooled

    LOL I knew it would come to this. What else do we expect from the NEGATIVE people? After all they found something wrong with the POPE!

    December 7, 2013 08:19 pm at 8:19 pm |
  23. Randy, San Francisco

    Tea Partiers must have taken over the Conservative Movement. The Conservative Movement is headed towards bankruptcy in integrity and moral standing.

    December 7, 2013 08:26 pm at 8:26 pm |
  24. ER

    Sad when the right wing is so crazy they make Newt look rational! Republicans come back to Earth!

    December 7, 2013 08:36 pm at 8:36 pm |
  25. McBob79

    The one thing I don't understand is Mandela's admiration for Castro who clearly imprisoned those who opposed him politically in the very same way Mandela was imprisoned. It doesn't make any sense.

    December 7, 2013 08:36 pm at 8:36 pm |
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