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. voiceoftruthusa

    "Some of the people who are most opposed to oppression from Washington attack Mandela when he was opposed to oppression in his own country. After years of preaching non-violence, using the political system, making his case as a defendant in court, Mandela resorted to violence against a government that was ruthless and violent in its suppression of free speech."

    Well said, Mr. Gingrich. If more racists would have more compassion for their fellow man, they would understand how a black man, when pressed to ungodly desperation for no good reason at all other than the color of his skin, would at some point stop trusting the blind eye of injustice and be tempted to black out the eyes of his oppressors. Anyone who doesn't understand Gingrich's response in this context is just demonic. This is a rare moment I agree with Mr. Gingrich.

    December 8, 2013 01:39 am at 1:39 am |
  2. .

    I can't wait to hear something intelligent coming out from Sarah's mounth about this 1

    December 8, 2013 01:46 am at 1:46 am |
  3. .

    I can't wait to hear something intelligent coming out from Sarah's mouth about this 1

    December 8, 2013 01:47 am at 1:47 am |
  4. JakeAZ

    Hector Slagg wrote:
    "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."

    wow. really? lincoln gets no credit at all. seriously? i am ashamed of my fellow coutrymen and women.

    December 8, 2013 01:53 am at 1:53 am |
  5. Tim

    Mandela was a racist socialist just like his student Obama. There is no difference between them. They are both lionized by the liberal media. Gingrich can recognize the truth about Obama because he's here, but if he was in South Africa, he would have seen the same thing about Mandela.

    December 8, 2013 01:55 am at 1:55 am |
  6. oneSTARman

    The Confederates are so Racist they can't accept that Mandela was a champion of the Human Spirit
    Mandela could never be one of THEM because as a Human Being he is One of US

    December 8, 2013 01:59 am at 1:59 am |
  7. Anonymous

    Funny, when so called Republicans/Conservatives wants to pick up arms against the Government they calls themselves Revolutionaries but when anyone else does it they Terrorist.

    December 8, 2013 02:01 am at 2:01 am |
  8. Skarphace

    White supremists cannot stand praise given to somebody who is black.

    December 8, 2013 02:24 am at 2:24 am |
  9. Anonymous

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

    @ exceptionalamericans......there are plenty of photos of white americans with smiles on their faces while burning and lynching people for the color of their skin.

    December 8, 2013 02:25 am at 2:25 am |
  10. Skarphace

    Hector Slagg: "just like America the settler's in South Africa began the long process of improving the lives of all the natives."

    Dude, I hope you were being sarcastic. If so, that was pretty funny. If not, you need some serious help.

    December 8, 2013 02:27 am at 2:27 am |
  11. knowyourhistory

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

    @ exceptionalamericans....There is an abundance of archived photos of smiling white people burning and lynching people for the color of their skin....there is no greater "terrorist" than the white american. learn your history.

    December 8, 2013 02:27 am at 2:27 am |
  12. Stop-the-BS

    Right-Wing Nuts vilifying another black man – why am I not surprised?

    December 8, 2013 02:32 am at 2:32 am |
  13. Skarphace

    The party of Reagan has fallen a long, long way. Step back from the precipice and drop the extemist, racist Tea Party, and there may be hope for your party yet, Republicans. They call you RINOs when they are the real RINOs.

    December 8, 2013 02:34 am at 2:34 am |
  14. Robert

    It funny, Mandela is a hero because he succeeded in the end. If he hadn't he'd be known as that black guy that killed a lot of people. I don't hate Mandela, but I think that most who claim to like him really don't know a lot about him. He is a hero to them because he is famous.

    December 8, 2013 02:46 am at 2:46 am |
  15. rlindsl

    Newt is right... I do not like him, but he is right. Thank you Mr. Gingrich.

    December 8, 2013 02:54 am at 2:54 am |
  16. Penn

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

    There is a place in DC called the Lincoln Memorial, maybe you should visit sometime

    December 8, 2013 03:02 am at 3:02 am |
  17. randyb

    Hey Trish Baehr-Schaefer...did you mean "gorilla warrior" like Planet of the Apes or "guerilla warrior"! You are either an uneducated racist or just not the "informed" person you seem to think you are in your post on Newt's page. You are pathetic either way.

    December 8, 2013 03:07 am at 3:07 am |
  18. donna

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

    This story is nothing more than a soft Facebook advertisement.

    December 8, 2013 03:30 am at 3:30 am |
  19. 1uniquemonique

    Gingrich and Cruz both encountered something Blacks have encountered all along. True white racism. You can never be "white" enough.

    December 8, 2013 03:34 am at 3:34 am |
  20. Joe Plumber

    Ho soon the right-wing gun-toting "patriots" forget that it was armed revolution that set us free from the UK. Also, the thousand of Americans, and 100,000+ civilians that have died in Bush's wars. He is a true mass murderer. But don't call them racist!

    December 8, 2013 03:45 am at 3:45 am |
  21. Reflecto

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

    So, where was MLK standing when he gave his "I have a dream" speech.

    December 8, 2013 03:49 am at 3:49 am |
  22. dinorugger

    It is quite interesting that americans are willing to forgive and forget the terrorist behaviors of the ANC and all their killing of innocent people to succeed in their agenda. There is no doubt that mandela united a country for a short while...but does the end justifiy the means. If bin laden had gotten his way and then became a humanitarian, would we be as accepting of his behavior. And if he had change the country so much, why are their still townships of blacks, beaten down by poverty and racism. For the most part, there is still violence and murder of blacks by whites and whites by blacks, and blacks on blacks. Nothing much has changed except people tolerate each other a little more. Americans need to fix their own racist and hatred society before passing judgement on countries they know nothing about except forwhat they want to read and believe.

    December 8, 2013 04:05 am at 4:05 am |
  23. USAPeasant

    Not many times I can agree with Newt, but he's on it this time.

    Though I think it is also important to remember Mandela's short-comings. Mandela even admitted these himself. It's important to remember his short-comings because for one it makes his redemption and saving graces more important, and also because it serves as a good geo-political lesson. Mandela-Botha was a time and cycle of mutual violence, that was good for no one and not good for their Nation. Mandela-De Klerk's efforts towards mutual reconciliation proved that the peaceful reconciliation not only trully ended the oppression of Apartheid, but also was the correct method to keep South Africa unified.

    December 8, 2013 04:06 am at 4:06 am |
  24. DrivenB4U

    Ok, so what is this business with the tire burning?

    December 8, 2013 05:03 am at 5:03 am |
  25. BD70

    I agree with Newt. Our country didn't gain the freedom it has without a war or two.

    December 8, 2013 05:08 am at 5:08 am |
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