A week has barely passed since former Republican House Speaker Newt Gingrich formally entered the race to win his party’s presidential nomination, and he’s already backtracking, apologizing and issuing no comments.
On this week’s broadcast of NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Gingrich decried House Budget Committee Paul Ryan’s proposal that would essentially turn Medicare into a voucher program as “radical social engineering.”
“I don't think right-wing social engineering is any more desirable than left-wing social engineering. I don't think imposing radical change from the right or the left is a very good way for a free society to operate. I think we need a national conversation to get to a better Medicare system with more choices for seniors,” he said during his appearance on the show.
The Republican establishment was not happy, and Gingrich was forced to issue an apology to Ryan on Tuesday. That same day, the former Georgia lawmaker was confronted by an angry voter in Iowa, who called Gingrich an “embarrassment” to the party.
"Why don't you get out [of the presidential race] before you make a bigger fool of yourself?” the unidentified man asked.
Gingrich also is worried that Democrats, who are clapping their hands with glee over his gaffe, will try to use it in attack ads against the GOP budget proposal. In an interview with Fox News host Greta Van Susteren Tuesday night, he said that his remarks on Meet the Press were a mistake.
“I want to make sure that every House Republican is protected from some kind of dishonest Democratic ad,” Gingrich said. “So let me say on the record: Any ad that quotes what I said on Sunday is a falsehood, because I have said publicly those words were inaccurate and unfortunate.”
In a conference call with reporters on Wednesday, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-New York), unofficial spokesman for Senate Democrats, applauded Gingrich’s candor and said his party plans to take full advantage.
“We will not miss a single opportunity of reminding the public what it means for seniors,” Schumer said.
And that’s not the only problem dogging Gingrich. Politico took a peek in his 2005 and 2006 financial disclosures and discovered that Gingrich carried up to $500,000 in debt with the tony jeweler Tiffany & Co. Gingrich’s wife, Calista, who worked for the House Agriculture Committee, reported the debt in her 2006 and 2007 filings. When asked by Politico if the bill has been settled, Gingrich spokesman Rick Tyler responded with an email that read, “No comment.”
(Photo: Mark Hirsch/Getty Images)