Speaking to Texas journalist Evan Smith this week, former House speaker Newt Gingrich (R-GA) exclaimed that if the 2012 presidential election was decided on “gifts” to women and minorities, as Mitt Romney claimed, then Romney should have gotten together with his billionaire supporters and simply “outbid” President Barack Obama.
Of course, Gingrich claimed that he doesn’t actually think Romney is correct: he called Romney’s assessment “insulting and profoundly wrong.” But that doesn’t mean he couldn’t shoot a hole through the logic.
“If it had been that simple, my question would be, ‘Why didn’t you outbid him?'” he said. “He had enough billionaire supporters. If buying the electorate was the key, he could have got all his super PAC friends together and said, ‘Don’t buy ads, give gifts.’ Be like the northwest Indians and have gift giving ceremonies. You know, he could have gone town by town and say, ‘Come here and let me give you gifts. Here are Republican gifts.’ We could have an elephant coming in with gifts on it.”
The comment, though succinct, is a bit odd considering that Gingrich built his political career in part by attacking recipients of welfare and pushing for reductions in benefits. He’s also saying, in effect, that Romney should have promised to give even more “gifts” than Obama, despite the failed candidate’s plans to slash the nation’s social safety net. It’s also striking considering his comments in August, when he told CNN’s Anderson Cooper, “under Obama’s ideology, it is absolutely true that he would be comfortable with sending a lot of people checks for doing nothing. I believe that totally.”
Republicans, by and large, have reacted with anger to Romney’s assessment, even though it’s in line with his famed “47 percent” remarks, which many Republicans defended. In secretly recorded audio published in September, Romney told a group of wealthy donors earlier this year that 47 percent of Americans would vote for Obama essentially because he’s paid them off.
On the contrary, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said Sunday that Romney’s comments have not helped the party. “We’re in a big hole [and] we’re not getting out of it by comments like that,” he said during an appearance on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “When you’re in a hole, stop digging. He keeps digging.”
This video is from “Overheard with Evan Smith,” published to YouTube on November 18, 2012.