Former Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich on Monday blasted MSNBC hosts and other liberals because he said that they had "used" the death of former South African President Nelson Mandela to "smear" President Ronald Reagan.
Over the weekend, conservatives had lashed out at Gingrich after he praised the late South African president.
On Monday, the former House Speaker told CNN's Chris Cuomo that he had "analyzed" why conservatives were angry about his praise of Mandela and determined that some of those people had "confused" Mandela with other members of his party -- the African National Congress (ANC) -- who committed violence while he was in jail for 27 years.
But Gingrich also came to the conclusion that some people had become angry at liberals who recalled Reagan's record on apartheid after Mandela's death.
"Some elements of the left, particularly on one news channel, went overboard in trying to use this as an excuse to attack Ronald Reagan," Gingrich opined. "And I think people who are Reagan loyalists, who know that Reagan had condemned apartheid, Reagan had called for Mandela to be released, Reagan actually appointed the first black ambassador to South Africa whose job was to pressure the Afrikaans government."
"This is just another excuse for the left to try to smear Reagan," he added. "So, there's a lot of anger on the right this opportunity being used inappropriately."
Following his election in 1980, Reagan had changed U.S. policy to support the South African government, saying that America could not "abandon a country that has stood by us in every war we’ve fought, a country that is strategically essential to the free world."
The former president later placed Mandela on the U.S. international terrorist list and vetoed economic sanctions against South Africa's apartheid government.
"I deeply regret that Congress has seen fit to override my veto of the Comprehensive Anti-Apartheid Act of 1986," Reagan said in a statement after his veto was overridden in 1986. "Punitive sanctions, I believe, are not the best course of action; they hurt the very people they are intended to help. My hope is that these punitive sanctions do not lead to more violence and more repression."
Watch this video from CNN's New Day, broadcast Dec. 9, 2013.