Newt Gingrich appeared on Meet the Press this morning, and on a few points it sounded a bit like he’s running in the Democratic Party primary.
Gingrich came out opposed to the Republican plan to reform Medicare, instead essentially signing on for the Democrats’ call to wring some waste and fraud out of the current system. He also handed the Democrats an easy talking point: “Even Newt Gingrich thinks the Republican agenda to destroy Medicare and kill seniors is radical and extreme!”
He also came out in favor of an individual federal mandate to buy health insurance. He tried to distinguish his mandate from the Obama mandate, but with little success.
Sandbagging your fellow Republicans in congress and offering tacit support for a key (unconstitutional) component of Obamacare is a very strange way to begin a run in a Republican primary. Not a strong start.
In a better moment, Gingrich responded with appropriate indignation when MTP host David Gregory made a ridiculous charge (he likely just read it on some lefty blog somewhere) of “coded” racism, regarding Gingrich’s reference to Obama as the “food stamp president”.
MR. GREGORY: First of all, you gave a speech in Georgia with language a lot of people think could be coded racially-tinged language, calling the president, the first black president, a food stamp president.
REP. GINGRICH: Oh, come on, David.
MR. GREGORY: What did you mean? What was the point?
REP. GINGRICH: That’s, that’s bizarre. That–this kind of automatic reference to racism, this is the president of the United States. The president of the United States has to be held accountable. Now, the idea that–and what I said is factually true. Forty-seven million Americans are on food stamps. One out of every six Americans is on food stamps. And to hide behind the charge of racism? I have–I have never said anything about President Obama which is racist.
Many on the left see the racist bogeyman in any criticism of the president, or cynically and maliciously try to score political points with the charge. Good for Newt for fighting back and knocking down the insinuation.
UPDATE(via Hot Air): A spokesman for Rep. Paul Ryan responds to the hit on his Medicare reform proposal:
“The solutions offered by Chairman Ryan and advanced by House Republicans make no changes to Medicare for those in and near retirement, while offering a strengthened, personalized program that future generations can count on when they retire,” Sweeney says. “Far from claims of radicalism, the gradual, common-sense Medicare reforms ensure that no senior will be forced to reorganize their lives because of government’s mistakes. The most ‘radical’ course of action on Medicare is continue to cling to the unsustainable status quo.”
“Serious leaders,” he adds, without naming names, “owe seniors specific solutions to avert Medicare’s looming collapse.”