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. dondiego

    Stay classy, GOP. Stay classy.

    December 7, 2013 11:32 pm at 11:32 pm |
  2. sonkarlay

    Its a shame for this country because they started racism and help others because republicans are the same today,this man wanted his people not to be slaves by white men who hate blacks

    December 7, 2013 11:32 pm at 11:32 pm |
  3. oboy

    I wonder whether her publicly displayed ignorance will help or hurt Ms. Trish Baehr-Schaefer's real estate business in Wisconsin? Does she live and work in a "red" county?

    December 7, 2013 11:32 pm at 11:32 pm |
  4. Willi Kruger

    I am not a fan of Newt although I do support the Tea Party. Mr. Mandela was a great man and a man of compassion. We have to remember that the USSR invested heavily into assisting anti white rule in Southern Africa. The chaos in Angola, Mozambique and Zimbabwe did nothing to convince white South Africans that black rule will be for the better. During the 1980's lots of Democrats favored sanctions against South Africa. The sanctions worked, but had some serious side effects. The South African economy shrunk and only recovered 10 years after the end of Apartheid. This meant less revenue for the new SA government and less jobs for all South Africans. The US Dollar value against the Rand where 1 for 1 in 1980. By 2001 it was $1.00 to R13.00. The poor, who were the people these sanctions where suppose to help suffered the most. The clumsy efforts of the carter administration and statements by the likes of Ted Kennedy did not help. It was the collapse of the Soviet Union and persuasion by Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher that convinced a majority of the then voters (2 thirds) to take the step. It took a real leader, Nelson Mandela to accept the challenge and took SA away from the possibility of a civil war.

    December 7, 2013 11:34 pm at 11:34 pm |
  5. Oswald C

    All those so called conservative that are critical of Mandela are showing their true color, Those are racist individuals that claims to be conservatives.

    December 7, 2013 11:35 pm at 11:35 pm |
  6. twotterpilot

    The right wing nut jobs on the fringe (or even further out) of the American political spectrum continue to amaze me. I thought Rush Limbaugh had reached the precipice with his recent condemnation of Pope Francis (nice going, "Der Fatty: you just lost more of your dwindling audience...), but the negative reaction to Newt's praise of Mandela is completely off the chart. Fortunately 99% of the world's population appreciates what Mandela stood for and represented. Thank you, Mr. Gingrich, for your kind words in memory of this world statesman and wonderful human being.

    December 7, 2013 11:43 pm at 11:43 pm |
  7. Jule

    Either Trish Baehr-schaefer is racist in reffering to Nelson Mandela as a 'gorilla' or is too ignorant to know how to spell 'guerrilla' – I would guess that most likely both are true.

    December 7, 2013 11:46 pm at 11:46 pm |
  8. AZ-Pete

    to exceptionalamericans: Nope they did not burn asnything, they shot the British

    December 7, 2013 11:49 pm at 11:49 pm |
  9. Capt Nemo

    >The founding fathers didn't pour gasoline in tires

    No, they used howling mobs or tar and feathers. Go read the history of Boston and how the "Loyalists" were treated by the Sons of Liberty.

    >And just like America the settler's in South Africa began the long process of improving the lives of all the natives.

    Absolutely wrong on both counts. What the Americans did to the natives and what the Boers did to the SA natives was genocide.

    December 7, 2013 11:50 pm at 11:50 pm |
  10. Emmanuel Goldstein

    "Exceptional American": You may want to read a little more about the founding fathers. They did some pretty 'sick' things in the revolution. George Washington, with an Army that had not been paid in months, had a group of his Army leave (they were going to march to Philadelphia to demand payment from the Continental Congress). He had the loyalists of his Army go after the deserters and bring them back. He then ordered that the best friends of the ten 'lead' deserters execute the deserters in front of the rest of the Army. This is just one of MANY instances that show why the founding fathers were considered terrorists by the British, but that you don't learn in school.

    December 7, 2013 11:55 pm at 11:55 pm |
  11. deltaecho

    Mandela and Obama – both communists. No tears from me.

    December 7, 2013 11:55 pm at 11:55 pm |
  12. Robert N. constant

    Conservative Ronald Reagan and his British counterpart Margaret Thatcher chose to support the murderous and repressive white racist Apartheid government of South Africa. American businesses would loose money. So besides trading weapons for hostages with Iran, the Iran Contra deal that Oliver North took the fall for, Besides closing down the Federal insane asylums and putting thousands of mentally incompetent homeless people on the streets, besides de stabilizing the Social Security System by "borrowing" hundreds of millions of dollars for unfunded tax cuts and unfunded military expansion, besides discouraging alternative energy at the behest of big oil, and opposing environmental safeguards, Ronald Reagan turned his back on the victims of Racial oppression. Let us not forget!

    December 7, 2013 11:57 pm at 11:57 pm |
  13. dcmdrealtor

    I find it interesting that the idiot that questioned Newt Gingrinch's praise of Mandela, spelled guerilla the wrong way. Or was it intended?

    December 8, 2013 12:00 am at 12:00 am |
  14. Kaleani

    Bravo Newt!

    December 8, 2013 12:01 am at 12:01 am |
  15. dcmdrealtor

    I find it interesting that the idiot that had problems with Newt Gingrich's praise of Nelson Mandela spelled guerilla the wrong way . . . or was it intentional? Either way, idiot may be too nice of a word for the likes of her.

    December 8, 2013 12:02 am at 12:02 am |
  16. musomesa

    Newt knows Africa and African History from his days in academia. All that is happening here is that the noise from the right is looking foolish to his cerebral self however appealing it might be to his political self.

    December 8, 2013 12:02 am at 12:02 am |
  17. Wallaceboy

    I still do not get the difference between a "freedom fighter" and a "terrorist". The ANC used some of the same tactics that muslim extremist groups use. Seems it is our acceptance of the motivation that drives our classification.

    December 8, 2013 12:03 am at 12:03 am |
  18. luke,az

    Republicans are the new confederates. When Gingrinch gets attacked from his own you know their party doesn't have long. The mascot of the Republican party is the mastodon.

    December 8, 2013 12:03 am at 12:03 am |
  19. soccerman

    I agree with Newt and respect him for standing on his own. these Crazies in GOP are killing the party.
    we need more GPO people like Newt!

    December 8, 2013 12:04 am at 12:04 am |
  20. JL Taylor

    The leaders of the modern Republican Party have allowed the party to be taken over by the most closed minded,
    pea brain, selfish, mean and hateful people this country has produced since the end of the civil war. The one issue
    I find so hard to digest is the fact that they are always claiming christianity. They only seem to serve the God of greed
    and live by the creed of me and mine have ours so to hell with all others.

    December 8, 2013 12:06 am at 12:06 am |
  21. Lone wolf

    Did anyone expect a different response from a party that preaches hate! These are the same folks that love to see people oppressed. They hate the fact that America no longer oppresses it's own citizens.

    December 8, 2013 12:09 am at 12:09 am |
  22. Gregg H

    Breaking news – people post dumb things on Facebook. More to come.

    December 8, 2013 12:10 am at 12:10 am |
  23. fekt

    it's the same people warning about government over reach and screaming for their right to have guns so they can "defend" themselves from uncle sam that are complaining about mandela now. It's obvious why. He's black Newt. You realize it as well. These are the people you pander too. They can now slander people anonymously via the internet. They don't even have to cut up their sheets and pillowcases any longer. These are the people the GOP court speaking so loudly that everyone can see.

    December 8, 2013 12:11 am at 12:11 am |
  24. Kenny

    @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 "...AMEN!

    December 8, 2013 12:11 am at 12:11 am |
  25. Jim

    Trish Baehr-Shaefer, Nelson Mandala could not have been a gorilla warrior. If you shave a gorilla, you will find white skin underneath. But that's beside the point. Why are you calling a recently deceased black man a great ape? That would be like me calling you a baboon because your butt's red and blue. I would never do that.

    December 8, 2013 12:17 am at 12:17 am |
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