With world politics so volatile and frustrating, I recently thought of former Speaker Newt Gingrich during the 2012 presidential primary debates and how every time he spoke it was like a cool drink of water on a hot summer day. Here are the best of his best.
12. After CNN’s John King asked Gingrich a “gotcha question” about his personal life: “I think a destructive, vicious, negative nature of much of the news media makes it harder to govern this country, harder to attract decent people to run for public office, and I am appalled that you would begin a presidential debate with a topic like that. I am tired of the elite media protecting Barack Obama and attacking Republicans.” (January 2012. He got a standing ovation for this one.)
11. Illegal immigration: “If you don’t want to use the National Guard, take half the department of Homeland Security bureaucracy in Washington, transplant it to Texas, Arizona and New Mexico, you’ll have more than enough people to control the border. There are humane, practical steps to solve this problem if we could get the politicians and the news media to deal with it honestly.” (June 2011 debate)
10. NASA: “Sadly, NASA has become an absolute case study in why bureaucracy can’t innovate. If you take all the money we’ve spent on NASA since we landed on the moon, and you’d applied that money for incentives to the private sector, we would today probably have a permanent station on the moon, three or four permanent stations in space, a new generation of lift vehicles – and instead what we’ve had is bureaucracy after bureaucracy and failure after failure.” (June 2011)
9. Regarding Obama supporting partial-birth abortion: “[N]ot once in the 2008 campaign … did anyone in the elite media ask why Barack Obama voted in favor of legalizing infanticide. If we’re going to have a debate about who the extremist is on these issues, it is President Obama who, as a state senator, voted to protect doctors who killed babies who survived the abortion – it is not the Republicans.” (Arizona, CNN)
8. Entitlements and 99 weeks of unemployment benefits: “The fact is 99 weeks is an Associate Degree! [S]aying to somebody ‘I’ll help you if you’re willing to help yourself’ is good, and we think unconditional efforts by the best Food Stamp President in American history to maximize dependency is terrible for the future this country.” (Fox News debate)
7. National Defense: “Andrew Jackson had a pretty clear idea about America’s enemies: kill them.” (Fox News)
6. Energy Independence: “If you want to stop Wahhabism, get an American energy policy so no American president ever again bows to a Saudi king because then you have enough American energy to stop them.” (ABC debate)
5. Does faith matter? “Absolutely. How can you have a country which is founded on truths which begin, ‘We are endowed by our creator with certain inalienable rights’? How can you have the Northwest Ordinance of 1787, which says, ‘Religion, morality and knowledge being important, education matters’? That’s the order – religion, morality and knowledge. I happen to think that none of us should rush in judgment of others in the way they approach God. I frankly would be really worried if somebody assured me that nothing in their faith would affect their judgments because then I would wonder, ‘how can you have judgment if you have no faith?’ And how can I trust you with power if you don’t pray?” (Western Republican debate)
4. Religious discrimination against gays: “I want to raise a point about the news media bias. You don’t hear the opposite question asked. Should the Catholic Church be forced to close its adoption services in Massachusetts because it won’t accept gay couples, which is exactly what the state has done? Should the Catholic Church be driven out of providing charitable services in the District of Columbia because it won’t give in to secular bigotry? Should the Catholic Church find itself discriminated against by the Obama administration on key delivery of services because of the bias and the bigotry of the administration? The bigotry question goes both ways, and there’s a lot more anti-Christian bigotry today than there is concerning the other side, and none of it gets covered by the news media.” (ABC debate)
3. Regarding Muslims working on his staff: “[T]he Pakistani who immigrated to the U.S., built a car bomb that luckily failed to go off in Times Square was asked by a federal judge how could he have done that when he swore an oath to the United States? And he looked at the judge and he said, ‘You’re my enemy – I lied.’ I am in favor of saying to people if you’re not prepared to be loyal to the United States you will not serve in my administration, period. We did this when dealing with the Nazis and we did this when dealing with the communists and it was controversial both times, and both times we discovered after a while, there are some genuinely bad people who would like to infiltrate our country, and we have got to have the guts to stand up and say ‘no.’” (June 2011)
2. When asked about oil companies getting tax breaks: “[F]or a second I thought you were going to refer to General Electric who paid no taxes. I was astonished … to have the president in the joint session with the head of G.E. talking about taking care of loopholes. And I thought to myself, doesn’t he realize that every ‘green’ tax credit is a loophole? Now, why did we get breaks for ethanol, breaks for oil and gas? [B]ecause if we make it possible for you to keep your own money, you will have more of it. We have a simple choice. We can depend on Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq, Venezuela, or we can encourage development in the United States of manufacturing oil and gas. It’s time for an energy-independent America.” (CNN)
1. When asked if he believed Obama was a socialist: “Sure, of course he is.” (Fox News debate)
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