Newt's rough roll-out - POLITICO
'Meet the Press' Interview with Newt Gingrich Sparks Controversy, as Paul Ryan's Medicare voucher plan was “right-wing social engineering. Announcer: From NBC News in Washington, MEET THE PRESS with . GINGRICH: I don't think right-wing social engineering is any more. But Gingrich, appearing on NBC's "Meet the Press" just days after "I don't think right-wing social engineering is any more desirable than.
We're still digesting the intelligence that's coming out of the raid in Pakistan that killed Osama bin Laden. Even after bin Laden? Now, does any serious person believe that the Pakistani government had no idea bin Laden was sitting there? Does anybody -- and notice, by the way, what the intelligence chief has apologized for.
He's apologized for the Americans getting bin Laden. He didn't apologize for nine and a half years of failing to find him.
He didn't apologize for Pakistan having failed to do its duty. And who did the -- who did the Pakistanis call the minute the American covert helicopter was shot down?
They called the Chinese. Now, I would just suggest to you, we need to rethink carefully what do we mean by the word, "ally. Well so, what does it mean? Would you cut off foreign aid to Pakistan right now? I would look very seriously at the whole relationship. But I, I, I believe something much deeper. I think this conflict with radical Islamists is so much more profound and is going to last so much longer that we had better be thinking about very different strategies.
I, I don't know that a simple boots-on-the-ground and violence from predators model -- this is not a comment on President Obama. I think the, the whole systemincluding in the Bush administrationhas underestimated the depth of the problem and, and the level of the, of the challenge that we face. Let me turn to another area that has earned you criticism, and that is questions about your temperament, given things that you have said during the long career in, in the public arena where people question your motivation.
Once such comment was made in September of last year. You were talking about the president. I'll put it up on the screen. That is the most accurate, predictive model for his behavior. This is a person who is fundamentally out of touch with how the world works, who happened to have played a wonderful con, as a result of which he is now president. What's the basis for making a comment like that? Well, first of all, that comment was made in reference to a book by Dinesh D'Souza who's a first generation American from Indiawho wrote a very interesting book arguing away a thing about Obama.
So it was in the context of a discussion about a book written by an American first generation immigrant who says, "Gosh, from my perspective here's a way of thinking about the president. I think that's a perfectly fair question. Is this a fair example -- in other words, this notion that somehow Obama 's anti-American, that he is not on America's teamthat he doesn't love Americaare you prepared to say right now to say both on behalf of yourself and to other Republicans out there that this is nonsense, we ought to put this to rest?
Well, look, I think he loves America. But I think he has a very different vision of what America is. And what is that?
I think it's a -- well, for example, he gives a speech to the National Defense University on Libya in which he cites the United Nations and the Arab League eight times and the U. Now, I just think there's a little bit of imbalance there. You don't think he believes in American exceptionalism? I'm fairly confident if you look at the -- now, he's learned recently how to say it.
But if you go back and look at the first two years of his presidency, it was a real changea real But here -- let me talk about me for a second, not about President Obama. One of my great weaknesses is that part of me is a teacher analyst. And part of me is a political leader. And I've -- one of the most painful lessons I've had to learn, and I haven't fully learned it obviously, is that if you seek to be the president of the United Statesyou are never an analyst, you know, you're never a college teacher because those folks can say what they want to say.
And somebody who offers to lead America has to be much more disciplined and, and much more thoughtful than an analyst. Analysts can say anything they want to because there's no downside. But the person to whom you're entrusting the leadership of the United States had better think long and hard before they say things. I think that's a fair criticism of me.
Newt Gingrich Blasts GOP Budget As ‘Right-Wing Social Engineering’
Let's talk about the campaign and your role in the campaign. You said back in that you're not a natural leader, that you're more of an intellectual gadfly. And yet here you are running for the presidency. Is that your role in this campaignto be an ideas guy That's a very fair question. And all I can tell you is that I've now spent 15 years trying to grow from gadfly to proposer of very serious, very fundamental policy change.
And one of the real parts of this campaign will be the process of going to the American peoplestarting tomorrow in Iowatalking about the things you and I are talking about. What do we do to get people back to work? What do we do to get back to a balanced budget? How do we enforce the 10th Amendment and move power out of Washington? These are huge undertakings. And my job is to gather together really bright people, listen to them carefully, and develop over time a series of proposals around which I think Americanot just Newt Gingrichbut Americashould stake its future.
You look at the field that's starting to take shape on the Republican side -- and we'll put the, the current polling on the board -- Mike Huckabee is now not running. He was high up there. You were there at 10 percent.
And our latest poll still indicates that you've still got high negatives. There's still a high unfavorable rating. Some of that, Mr. Speaker, has to do with your own personal lifethe fact that you've been married three times, you had extramarital affairsone of -- during which the time that Republicans were pursuing President Clinton for impeachment that earned you the label of being a hypocrite.
And I wonder how you're going to deal with this, particularly when social conservativeslike Tom Coburnsenator from Oklahomahas said the following about you.
And I 'll put it up on the screen. This was from last summer. Senator Coburn "made it clear that he won't be on Newt Gingrich 's presidential bandwagon. His life indicates he does not have a commitment to the character traits necessary to be a great president. Well, all I can say to every American, and every American has the right to ask these questions, is that I have made mistakes in my life.
I have had to go to God for forgiveness and to seek reconciliation. And I 'd ask them to look at who I am today, look at the strong marriage that Callista and I have, look at the close relationship I have with my two daughters and their husbands, look at the loving relationship we have with our grandchildren, and decide whether or not I am today a person that they believe could lead the country and could save us in a period of, of enormous problems.
I think the problems we face require a leader with the courage to take the heat and to try to bring together millions of people so that collectively we can get this country back on the right track.
But before you get there, it becomes an electability issue. You've said -- one of the things you've said is that you've matured. But you were 55 years old at the time these things were going on, hardly a young man. And at the same time, just this year, you've talked about what was going on in your life at the time.
This is what you told the Christian Broadcasting Network. There's no question that at times of my life, partially driven by, by how passionately I felt about this countrythat I worked far too hard and that things happened in my life that were not appropriate. Do people -- should they be expected to take that as a serious act of contrition? That you were so patriotic and so passionate that you cheated on your wife? Davidand that, that's 15 seconds out of what I think was a something minute interview.
I have said -- I'll repeat what I said to you a minute ago. I clearly have done things that were wrong. I've clearly had to seek God's forgiveness. I've seen -- I believe people have to decide whether or not what I've said and what I've done is real.
And I think that if people watch me and talk with me and get to know me, my hope is it'll -- the majority of Americans will decide that I can help this country get back on track in a way that no one else can.
And if they decide that that's true, then I think we will have a very successful campaign. But people have every right to ask the tough questions and to measure somebody personally.
You understand people, particularly conservative Republicans saying I, I understand people questioning. And then we'll see whether or not, over timethey decide I'm somebody they can support or whether, as many people say to me, that as they get to know me and as they listen to what I'm doing and they watch how I operate and they watch what I'm doing, they say, "You know, I really do think you can help Americaand we're going to help you.
Also important to conservatives. There are reports about your businesses having unpaid taxes. Can that be resolved?
I -- they're all -- every single thing in that report had already been resolved. We run four businesses. Over 12 years we've paid millions of dollars in taxes. There were, I think, four or five places where, largely because stuff got lost in the mail coming to us, we didn't even know we had the liens.
And several of the cases, when we called, the liens didn't even exist. All of that's taken care of. What about Mike Huckabee?
Do his voters go to you? Will you be working for him? Look, his voters are very independent, and they're going to go where they believe that America needs to go both on conservative and spiritual values. Huckabee -- Governor Huckabee is going to remain a very important figure in the conservative moment, and I suspect that, that he is going to have a role to play for many years to come. In the conservative moment, there is, of course, a celebration of Ronald Reagan.
And a lot of candidates, you -- try to grab that mantle of Reagan. Back on this program inyou said some interesting things about Reagan. I want to show them. First of all, Ronald Reagan did a lot of things that conservatives didn't like. And I think it's a little bit much to go back and say that was Camelotthat that was an era of pure conservatism.
George Bush isn't as good as Reagan was at making speeches on the right while governing in the centerbut the fact is, that's what Ronald Reagan did. Is that a model for President Gingrich? Run on the right, govern from the center? Well, Ronald Reagan ran a very broad center right platform. Ronald Reagan ran on defeating the Soviet empire. He is an extraordinary man.
Newt Gingrich Blasts GOP Budget As ‘Right-Wing Social Engineering’ – Talking Points Memo
But there is a lot to learn from him. You were mentioning earlier about the debt ceiling fight. Reagan had a pretty firm rule of get 80 percent and keep moving. Don't go for percent. Callista and I have done a movie, "Ronald Reagan: Is that how you would approach it? Try to govern from the center? I -- the center right. I think it -- I don't think that people on the left would be very happybut I've always said publicly, and Reagan believed this, you can't have a hard right presidency succeed because the countrythere's a center -right majority that will isolate the left.
There's not a right wing majority in this country. But clearly Reagan was a great conservative overall, and I think that my record is pretty extraordinarily conservative in the same tradition. Who's the front-runner right now on the Republican side? Oh, I suspect Governor Romney is just because of the scale of the money he has and the amount he can raise.
But, candidly, since Governor Huntsman probably has equal amount of moneyhe may be in. If Donald Trump comes in, he has, he has Is he a serious candidate? Is Trump a serious candidate?
I mean, this is a free societyand anybody who wants to can come play. All three of them are capable of providing enough money on their own that they're very formidable candidates. Would you entertain being on the ticket as a number two if it came to that? DavidI want you to ask yourself, can you imagine any presidential nominee who would pick me to be the vice presidential candidate? But would you entertain it? Would that be a no? Nobody -- as Reagan said in '76 when he was hoping Ford would not ask him, nobody could automatically say no to the president of the United States.
But it strikes me as so implausible, I'm not -- Callista and I will not spend long hours worrying about that question. And the debate goes on. Speaker Gingrichthank you very much.
Coming up, the Republican presidential field taking shape this week with both Gingrich and Ron Paul throwing their hats into the ring, while Mike Huckabeehe bows out. But there are still some big names on the sidelines.
How will the Republican field shape up? And can the eventual nominee make a successful case against President Obama? We'll get immediate MR. Coming up, our roundtable breaks down the political landscape after a pretty busy week and our interview here with Newt Gingrich.
Peggy NoonanE. They'll weigh in right after this brief commercial break. Big week in politics, and we are joined by our roundtable to MR. Well, we've just heard the first of our Meet the Candidates series, Mark Halperinwith Newt Gingrichnow a candidate. What did we learn?
He knows what he has to do to win. And amongst it, he referred to it quite self-consciously in response to your questions, he has to not be an analyst, he has to not be a, a gadfly, as he said. He's got to be a, a leader, a political leader and a politician, not talk like a speaker of the Housenot talk like a Fox News analyst, talk like a potential president. I think in, in this whole fieldhe's one of the underrated candidates in terms of his chances, and I think he showed today But do you think he did that?
Do you think he dialed back the reputation as, I mean, not just an analyst, but a flamethrower? I mean, talking about Obama and anti-colonial views, about anti- Americanism ; talking about the, the left as the, you know, that has to be saved, to -- akin to Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union.
I mean, that's, that's language. The, the animating force in the Republican Party today is be in Barack Obama 's face, be aggressive, be out to destroy his presidency. Newt Gingrich has a complicated problem.
- Meet the Press transcript for May 15, 2011
- Gingrich Calls GOP Budget ‘Right Wing Social Engineering’
- Gingrich Apologizes to Paul Ryan for 'Right-Wing Social Engineering' Criticism
He needs to inhabit that space, which he naturally does; at the same time, he does need to dial back, as he said. Whenever you asked him a tough question today, he smiled and he tried to stay calm and not be a flamethrower, and I think that's what he's going to try to do the rest of the way. Is he too much a symbol of the past, or does he deserve a second act? Well, he is a symbol of the past. But, you know, Newt has always wanted to run for president, so I'm actually glad he's doing it. And he seems to be trying to cast himself as a good-natured flamethrower, and he was very good at kind of fending off those questions.
But he can never resist going a few steps over the top. Right during your interview, you asked him if this comment on food stamps is racially tinged. And he doubles down and says, "Well, do we want the U. And so Newt 's always unplugged. But you've got the most unsettled Republican fieldI think, sincewhen Wendell Willkie snuck in. You know, usually it's either a front-runner or a structured choice -- Rockefeller against Goldwateror Ford against Reagan. This time it's wide openand you saw it on that poll where the numbers are just scattered all over the place.
That gives anybody a chance. This is what it looked like. The question was, he was the anti- Obama. And underneath that, he would answer no. And yet this issue of Obama 's values, are they in sync with what Americans want, how Americans define themselves, and whether Obama loves America?
I didn't hear the former speaker dial back a lot of his views that Obama 's still outside the mainstream. No, and I thought your questions on that were really fair, David.
May Gingrich, roundtable - Meet the Press - Transcripts | NBC News
I mean, all politicians -- and we know this, covering them -- are contradictions. All humans are contradictions. This human, this politician is especially contradictory.
And one of the big contradictions you see when you spend time with Speaker Gingrichif you've looked at him over the last couple years, is he is a very thoughtful, history-minded individual. He can, he can expound very thoughtfully and carefully on the currents of history. And at the same time, I think, like his old nemesis President Clintonin some ways, he really wants to be liked, and he has a tendency to dive into the currents of extremism very quickly, I think, and often to his detriment, when he feels there's a, there's an advantage to be gained.
Helene Cooperon some of the issues that you're covering right now -- the Medicare fightthe issue of health care and how the president's going to defend it -- I mean, here you have Newt Gingrich basically supporting the individual mandate.
Which is what President Obama did in his healthcare plan, which Mitt Romney did. And also saying about Medicare that he doesn't support what Paul Ryan 's doing to refashion the program. I thought that was really interesting. I was very surprised to hear what he said about the individual, individual mandate. I think we saw today, this morning, a much more in control Newt Gingrich.
I mean, his -- the, the biggest issue for Gingrich has always been -- there's no doubt that he's one of the smartest guys out there in politics. But his tendency to wild hyperbole and this discipline issue that you guys talked about during the interview just now. We saw a much more disciplined Newt Gingrich just now, a, a few minutes ago, but I -- and II was very surprised to hear what he said about, about health care and the individual mandate.
But I'm going to be -- it'll be interesting to see whether, moving forward in the campaignhe can keep that discipline. One of the most interesting things today that I saw in your Newt Gingrich interview was that a very busy green roomin which a bunch of people were walking around and chatting, stopped and watched it. It was a silent green room. That tells you something. People will stop and listen to him.
He is a compelling character. Gingrich is one of the best explainers of generally conservative views and philosophical starting points that there is out there, so that's going to be interesting. I found him very nondefensive today, good-natured Can he get past the personal baggage, the affairs, the marriages?
Is, is this an electability problem? One of the things, however, I was thinking as I watched him was, you know, to young peopleto and year-old voters, it just occurred to me, he's new. To all of us, he's been around for a long time. He left the speakership inwe all covered it. To somebody who's 18 or 22, this is a new figure.
They may find him quite compelling. The personal stuff, I don't know. Well, but, Mark Halperinwhat he's saying is, "It's fair to ask about the personal stuff, but I don't think it's really going to matter to people because I'm in a good marriage now and, you know, I, I've said that I've made mistakes. Well, there's something to that. And, and unlike his previous passes, this -- even though his current wife has never been through a campaign with him She's involved in a lot of his activities now.
There are no perfect candidates in this race, and, and the flaws that are easy to isolate with Newt Gingrich I think are, are in some ways, if he, if he stays as disciplined as he's been, are more manageable within the base of the Republican Party than some of the other flaws some of these other candidates have.
Let's talk about Mike Huckabeehis announcement last night on Fox News. He, he drew it out till the very end, as an entertainer, and then this is what he said. The past few weeks, the external signs and signals and answers to many of the obstacles point strongly toward running.
And when I'm with people encouraging me to run, it's easy to feel the strength of their partnership and commitment to help me to the finish line. But only when I was alone, in quiet and reflective moments, did I have, not only clarity, but an inexplicable inner peace, a peace that exceeds human understanding. All the factors say, "Go!
So a lot of flash in that announcement that he's not doing anything. So who occupies that space in the fieldE. Well, you know, I think Mike Huckabee occupies two bits of space.
First of all, I think he is one of the most likable people in national politics. If you spent time with him in the last campaignhe's just a very warm, easygoing guy. There's a likability space that I think people underestimate. You know, Tim PawlentyI think, could occupy that kind of space, except he's become a really much more hard-line figure in order to get the conservative vote.Newt Gingrich 9/2/12 Meet the yogaua.info4
And then there is the Christian conservative vote, which is very -- was very solid for him in Iowaalmost helped him win in South Carolina. And this is your question. Iowa and South Carolinathen, who, who picks up that rope, in effect, that he would have been pulling?
Those, those are two huge geographical holes he left. I'd add to E. He's not a Wall Street Republicanhe's more of a populist Republican. So Huckabeeyou know, the way he went out I think was, was, was, was partly he wanted attention, he wanted people to think one more time he's the national front -runner. Of all the unprecedented things we're seeing this cycle, we've never had someone -- the national front -runner, the Iowa front- runner, the South Carolina front-runner just walking away from the thing.
I think there's a lot of unpredictability now added as people try to figure out, "How can we take a little bit, at least, away? They don't have one now. And of course, then the surprising thing, right after he's done announcing at the end of the show -- he interviews Mario Lopez during the show, and then right after he says "I'm not running," then you see this video pop up from the Donald.
I think he'd be a terrific president. But a lot of people are very happy that he will not be running, especially other candidates.
So, Mikeenjoyed the show. Your ratings are terrific. You're making a lot of money.
You're building a beautiful house in Florida. Helenewhat does that mean? What just happened there? I think you were seeing -- the second that Mike Huckabee -- I found out that he wasn't running, not because I was sitting in front of the TV because it was a Saturday night, but my BlackBerry exploded with e-mails and statements from every other candidate running to try to scoop up his voters. The list of possibilities likely begins with Minnesota Rep.
Bachmann has a natural connection to Iowa — she was born in Waterloo — and she was a home-school advocate before entering politics. Others looking to fill the void left by Huckabee will be former Minnesota Gov.
Tim Pawlenty and former Pennsylvania Sen. Pawlenty has sought to sell himself as the candidate most capable of uniting social and economic conservatives. Chief among them is Romney, who finished 10 points behind Huckabee in Iowa in after waging a hard and expensive fight. Another potential candidate who probably wanted to spend time and attention elsewhere is former Utah Gov.
Jon Huntsman, whose past support for civil unions will likely turn off many social conservatives in Iowa. Washington High School, the winning school of the Race to the Top Commencement Challenge, he does so with some fresh poll numbers in his hand that may put a bounce in his step.
A combined 59 percent of respondents say they will vote for him or consider voting for him for re-election in Sixty percent of those surveyed say the country is on the wrong track, and only four in 10 Americans approve of his handling of the economy.
Yet the president still finds himself with majority support — only 38 percent say they will definitely not vote for him in While in Memphis, President Obama also plans to meet with families impacted by the floods caused by the swelling of the Mississippi River.
The 10 mostly red states still without an Obama visit: For more political coverage, visit our politics page. Sign up here to receive the Morning Line in your inbox every morning.