Gingrich says he’s “most experienced outsider in modern times” (audio)

Mitt Romney yesterday called Newt Gingrich a “life-long politician” and Ron Paul released a video alleging Gingrich is a flip-flopper. During a Radio Iowa interview with Gingrich late this afternoon, I noted that, with audiences, Gingrich stresses his experience and criticizes Obama as an inexperienced president.

I asked: “How can you be both an outsider and someone who has inside knowledge?”

Gingrich replied: “I would just draw the distinction I’m certainly a life-long citizen and I tell people it started in August before my sophomore year in high school and I’m proud of citizenship. I would also say I’m a little bit like Reagan in that Reagan spent eight years in the White House, but was never in Washington, that it’s a state of mind.  If you look at the degree to which the Washington establishment would tell you I’m an outsider, you know, it’s pretty clear that the way I think, the degree to which I challenge the establishment and the degree to which I’m willing to follow ideas and solutions to their natural consequence without regard to Republican or Democratic political correctness makes me probably the most experienced outsider in modern times.”

AUDIO of that response.

I raised the idea that Herman Cain’s (previous) popularity was due to his outsider status, as voters are attracted to that persona.  Gingrich, in his reply, quipped that the country is having its own “999” moment with a nine percent approval rating for congress and the nine percent unemployment rate.

AUDIO of this portion of the Radio Iowa interview

“It’s a little bit like being in a card game where they want to kick over the table.  I mean, they don’t want to get told, ‘Just deal another hand.’ They want to say, ‘Wait a second.’ And I think the country’s right. This is a mess,” Gingrich said. “…I get the sense people, because they’re really worried about the country, they’re having conversations that are much more substantive and much tougher minded than if we were at four percent unemployment and a balanced budget and everything was working, they’d be asking a totally different set of questions and so they’re sort of peeling back the layers and saying, ‘Now wait a second. Nice slogan. What’s the policy? Nice policy. Could he really get it done?’ And interestingly, maybe just because of who gets involved in these things, I find an amazing level of sophistication in the people that ask me questions and talk to me…Not just in the obvious three early states, I mean, you and New Hampshire have this exquisite experience of personally interviewing every presidential candidate at least six times, but there’s also just a general, when you go around the country,  it’s almost like there’s a national conversation going on and because of youtube and stuff, people will take like certain scenes from debates. We’re seen by millions more people than watched the debate because that clip went everywhere.”

I next raised the topic of the Ron Paul tape, and its specific rap on Gingrich regarding the health care mandate.  “How will you answer that question amid this criticism that you flip-flopped on it?”

“It’s an idea which the longer we studied it, the worse it got. Period. Virtually every conservative was for it in 1993 to stop Hillary and gradually people reached a conclusion that it wasn’t workable and it was a bad idea,” Gingrich said. “I don’t mind saying there are things I’ve learned over the last 53 years that I have changed my opinion on.”

I followed up with: “Do you think that’s an adequate response?”

“Against Barack Obama? He’s not going to attack me because of the mandate,” Gingrich replied.

AUDIO Gingrich addressing the health care mandate.

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About O.Kay Henderson

O. Kay Henderson is the news director of Radio Iowa.