Gingrich raps SuperCommittee, says tax increases “maniacally stupid” (audio)

GOP presidential candidate Newt Gingrich entered the lunch room at GuideOne Insurance in West Des Moines at about 11:30 a.m. and focused his opening commentary to the crowd on the “super committee” wrestling with a deficit reduction plan.

“I am watching the super committee in Washington with amazement, Gingrich said. “This is the dumbest idea I have seen in a very long lifetime.”  The crowd applauded. A few hooted.

Gingrich suggested the alternative to a deal — a 25 percent across-the-board cut in the federal budget — is a “totally artificial…threat.”

“God didn’t come down one morning and say, ‘If you don’t reach this deadline, terrible things will happen,” Gingrich said. “The politicians in Washington in both parties failed to achieve an intelligent solution in the summer, kicked the ball down the road, and are now in the process of failing to achieve an intelligent solution in the fall…It’s as though somebody walked in and said, ‘You know, I’m under instructions to shoot you in the head unless you have me cut off your leg.'”

Gingrich characterized the super committee as “automatic stupidity as a replacement for self-government.”

Gingrich called upon congress to “drop the threat” of the across-the-board cut if the super committee fails.  “The idea that you’re going to browbeat the American people into supporting something stupid because you already passed something that’s even dumber is really bad government and a real betrayal of the principles of self-government. Just drop it. Come to us with something that’s on its face worth passing.”

Gingrich suggested tax increases were “maniacally stupid” and “an invitation to an economic catastrophe.”  Gingrich said “innovation” would spur economic growth that would be able to “mop up the debt by the sheer scale of the economy.”

Gingrich characterized Obama’s economic strategy as “fantasy and collapse.”

In answer to the first question from the audience — about cooperation in the political class — Gingrich said: “I think it’s become much too partisan in both parties.”

“I’m more interested in you,” the last questioner from the audience, 76-year-old Lillie Anderson of Des Moines — a part-time Guide One employee, told Gingrich. She asked him to tell her why she should vote for him.

Gingrich said he would share his “deepest feelings” and he began by talking about his childhood in a military family, then closed with a discussion of the nation’s current dilemma.

“I don’t think there’s anybody else with the range of experience, the range of background, the willingness to take the beating,” Gingrich said to close. “….I find it very formidable to think that I might win.”

Anderson, a supporter of Tim Pawlenty until he dropped out, told reporters afterwards that she is likely to caucus for Gingrich now.  “I want somebody who is going to beat Obama,” Anderson said, adding Gingrich’s performance in the televised debates were what swayed her into the Gingrich camp.

AUDIO of the answer Gingrich gave Anderson at the end of his GuideOne appearance.

Gingrich seems to get loudest applause of night

GOP presidential candidate Newt Gingrich is the fourth candidate to speak tonight at the Iowa Faith & Freedom Coalition event, and the crowd seemed very engaged by his remarks.

Gingrich repeated his call for seven, three-hour-long debates with President Obama.  “To be fair, I would agree that he can use a teleprompter,” Gingrich joked.  The crowd laughed and applauded.  “After all, if you had to spend an entire three-hour debate defending ObamaCare, wouldn’t you want to have the help of a teleprompter?”

When asked about “abortion on demand” Gingrich referred to a policy paper at about the judiciary and “activist” judges.

As one of the hosts of the event posed his question (in the same way he has to the previous candidates), Gingrich joked he had heard the question before.  There was laughter. State Senator Jerry Behn, the fellow asking questions on behalf of the Iowa Energy Forum, offered up an apology, said he was just trying to be fair to the candidates.

“You’re not some news guy,” Gingrich quipped.

Gingrich got a huge response from the crowd at the end of his remarks.

Gingrich chides reporter for asking him about campaign $$ (AUDIO)

During a Q&A session with reporters this afternoon, Seema Mehta of The LA Times asked Gingrich about his fundraising for the quarter.

AUDIO of Mehta & Gingrich

Mehta: “With the fundraising quarter coming to a close, what…”

Gingrich: “See, I knew you couldn’t resist. I’m not going to answer you. I think you should, you should really go home and think about why you would even ask that today.”

AUDIO: Q & A with reporters

Five candidates say yes to Family Leader event

The Family Leader folks announced today that five GOP presidential candidates have agreed to appear at the group’s event in November.  Bachmann, Cain, Gingrich, Paul & Santorum have RSVP’d yes.  The group says Rick Perry and Mitt Romney have been “invited” but haven’t said yes or no yet.  Information from the group’s news release is copied below.

Saturday, November 19
4:00-6:00 PM
First Federated Church, Des Moines
The Thanksgiving Family Forum will not be your typical “debate”.  Instead, it will be a family discussion with the Republican Presidential candidates.  The candidates will be seated around a table in a family-friendly setting designed to learn not only what the candidates think about family issues, but also why they think what they think.   
We were intentional about selecting the weekend before Thanksgiving in the hope of giving Iowans something to discuss at the Thanksgiving dinner table. 
Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul, and Rick Santorum (confirmed); Rick Perry and Mitt Romney (invited)


CitizenLink (A Focus on the Family Affiliate)
National Organization for Marriage
Location: First Federated Church, 4801 Franklin Ave., Des Moines, IA 
Time:  4:00-6:00 PM
Ticket Price:  $40
Family Pack:  4 Tickets for $125
Note:  All solicitation of funds in connection with this event are by The FAMiLY LEADER and not by any candidate.  Paid for by The FAMiLY LEADER and not authorized by any candidate or candidate committee. 

Round 2: Gingrich v. media, Santorum v Bachmann, Pawlenty v RomneyCare

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich was the central character in the opening of round two of tonight’s debate in Ames.  Gingrich rapped Chris Wallace of FOX News, accusing him of asking “gotcha questions” and followed that a bit later by referencing “Mickey Mouse games” in the media. It’s a media Gingrich alleged pays too little interest to “the ideas that distinguish us from Barack Obama” and too much attention to campaign minutia.

It also bears mentioning in this context of confrontation-with-the-media that Romney, in round one of the debate, also hit back Bret Baier of FOX News with, “I’m not going to eat Barack Obama’s dog food,” when pressed to say whether he — Romney — would have vetoed the debt ceiling deal congress passed earlier this month.

It was also in this round that Santorum criticized Bachmann for a sort of all-or-nothing strategy on legislating and governing.  “You need people who are good at leadership, not showmanship,” Santorum said.

Pawlenty near the end of this round was given another swing at the “RomneyCare” question he was asked in the last debate.

“I don’t want to miss that chance again, Chris,” Pawlenty said, saying “RomneyCare” was a “fair label.” Pawlenty also poked at some other points of Romney’s record as governor, saying, “we’re going to have to show contrast, not similarities” with President Obama.

Romney was allowed to jump in at this point. “I think I liked Tim’s answer at the last debate better,” Romney quipped.  He offered his 10th amendment defense.

Bachmann was then asked whether she believes states have the authority to require people to buy health insurance.  “Government is without authority to compel a person to purchase a product or service,” Bachmann said.

Paul, when he was asked to weigh in, said both parties have developed a medical system that is “based on corporatism.”

Santorum jumped in, arguing there are limits to states rights, such as when states try to allow polygamy.

Economy dominates; S&P downgrades (audio)

Pawlenty in Tiffin

Four Republican presidential candidates spoke earlier this evening in Tiffin, Iowa (in the Clear Creek Amana high school cafeteria) to Republicans in the area.  Two of them in particular (Tim Pawlenty & Newt Gingrich) hammered away at President Obama’s handling of the economy. Gingrich suggested the economy’s in such horrid shape “we need to actually try to solve problems before the election.”  Gingrich also suggested the president was inept. “We have a president who combines, in a remarkable way, radicalism with incompetence,” Gingrich said.  Pawlenty said Obama would be “beaten comfortably” if the election were held today.

The economy was the top drawer issue during the daylight hours on the campaign trail.  Tonight came word that Standard & Poors has downgraded the long-term U.S. credit rating from AAA to AA.  Two candidates have issued statements.

Statement from Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann:

“Tonight’s decision by S&P to downgrade our credit rating to AA+ is a historically significant and serious event for the United States. The United States has had a AAA credit rating since 1917. That rating has endured the great depression, World War II, Korea, Vietnam and the terrorist attacks on 9/11. This President has destroyed the credit rating of the United States through his failed economic policies and his inability to control government spending by raising the debt ceiling.

“We were warned by all of the credit agencies that a failure to deal with our debt would lead to a downgrade in our credit rating, but instead he submitted a budget that had a $1.5 trillion deficit and then requested a $2.4 trillion blank check. President Obama is destroying the foundations of the U.S. economy one beam at a time. I call on the President to seek the immediate resignation of Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and to submit a plan with a list of cuts to balance the budget this year, turn our economy around and put Americans back to work.”

Statement from former Godfather’s Pizza CEO Herman Cain:

On Tuesday, April 19, 2011, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner promised that America faced “no risk” of a credit downgrading. Less than six months later, he is proven shamefully wrong. As I have feared for months, the S&P has chosen to downgrade America’s credit rating from AAA, which we have always enjoyed, to AA+.

Perhaps this is because the Obama Administration and Congressional Democrats never once demonstrated a willingness to propose its own ideas for meaningful spending cuts, something credit agencies signaled were necessary to redeem America’s financial standing in the world.

As a corporate executive, I’ve rescued companies from the brink of bankruptcy and returned them to profitability. That involved balancing budgets or even creating them in the first place, something that the Democratic leadership in Congress hasn’t done for 828 days. If I couldn’t run companies without budgets, how can the government?

I also had to make tough budgetary cuts to save companies. Leadership is about doing what’s right, even when it’s difficult. But somehow, that sort of idea was never floated among those within the Obama Administration.

Now, Americans are fearful for their retirements and for their children’s educational savings. This is a country known for dreamers and innovators, for thinkers and doers. And now, we are a nation living in fear.

This is a sad day for America. Such a rating is unfitting of the greatest and most prosperous nation the world has ever known. And such a weak leader is, as well.

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Gingrich warning: “Depression” ahead

I double-checked with Gingrich aide R.C. Hammond.  Gingrich is warning there may be more than a double-dip recession, but a “depression” ahead.

“When you have a president who is undermining jobs and the economy, if we a serious shock from Europe or the Middle East, you could see us go into a second, deeper depression.”  — Newt Gingrich, August 4, 2011 in Radio Iowa interview.

Gingrich has been using the phrase “Obama Depression” since July.  His latest comments come after the Dow dropped more than 500 points in a day.

Gingrich: “soap opera” of debt debate accomplished little (audio)

GOP presidential candidate Newt Gingrich suggests today’s precipitous decline on the Dow is “very worrisome.”

“As long as we stay with Obama’s bureaucratic socialism and we stay with Obama’s class warfare, we’re going to have a very bad economy and what we have to worry about is when you have a president who is undermining jobs and the economy, if we a serious shock from Europe or the Middle East, you could see us go into a second, deeper depression and I think that’s very worrisome,” Gingrich said this evening in answer to a question I posed about today’s Dow decline. “I mean, it began to hit me about seven weeks ago that this was not going to recover and that means you’re fragile and we could go down further.

“…My message all this weekend is going to be that every American should say to their congressmen and their senators that the number one thing you need to do when you go back in September is work on jobs for real — not just p.r. gimmicks, not just bus tours.”

Gingrich advocates a four-part plan: repeal the Dodd/Frank Act; open up American energy production; replace the EPA with the “Environmental Solutions Agency” Gingrich first proposed in January; and “dramatically restrain” the NLRB.

I asked a follow up, basically asking if today’s Dow drop is related to the debt deal, or to the long-term economic performance of important sectors of the economy.

“The market’s been decaying for 10 days. I think what the market’s doing is telling you is that nothing that was done in this entire ‘soap opera’ makes any difference to the long-term trajectory,” Gingrich said in reply. “They don’t believe the numbers. They don’t believe the agreement. It was probably good to have avoided default, but it didn’t accomplish anything positive. It accomplished the negative achievement, ‘We didn’t default,’ and I think that’s a real challenge.”

Audio of the brief Q&A with Gingrich.

Gingrich: economy, not deficit, should be focus

Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich met early this morning with 21 members of “The Conservative Breakfast Club” — a group of Des Moines-area men who meet on Tuesdays at The Des Moines Golf and Country Club.  The group met this Friday, at the bar in The Wakonda Club (which, like the DMGCC is a private club). The meeting with Gingrich was arranged yesterday.

Gingrich stood just in front of the Wakonda Club’s wooden bar,  as the 21 men in the audience sat at round tables covered with white table cloths.  He began by saying it was “fascinating to watch the process in D.C.” over the debt ceiling, and Gingrich declared: “Everyone seems paralyzed.”

Gingrich brought up President Obama’s assertion that he didn’t know if Social Security checks would go out in August if the debt ceiling isn’t raised.  Gingrich called that “fundamentally dishonest”  and “fairly pathetic politics.”  Gingrich later said Obama was either guilty of “radicalism run amok or pure incompetence.”

Gingrich suggested House Republicans pass a one-month extension, to get through the month of August.  Gingrich also suggested forcing agency chiefs to lay off 10 percent of their staff; some up with some system to lay off “the least important” staff in government; or close some federal agencies altogether.

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Gingrich: budget could be balanced in 5 years (audio)

Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich met privately with a small group shortly after noon here at Pella Christian High School, a “round table” organized by The Family Leader.  Gingrich is the candidate being featured in this month’s “presidential lecture series” sponsored by The Family Leader and he’s speaking to a crowd in the school’s auditorium early this afternoon.  He’ll go on to a lecture at the University of Iowa, then this evening he and his wife will screen one of their films in Cedar Rapids.

“I always left the smarter” from being in Gingrich’s presence, according to Bob Vander Plaats, president of The Family Leader. “…He represents the adult in the room today.”

Gingrich said his wife had advised him to share this: “We have Pella Windows in our hosue…I can’t say I have Vermeer farm equipment.”   Pella & Vermeer are both manufacturers based in Pella.

Gingrich focussed first on an economic message: “People need to focus on last Friday’s job report….You can’t have strong families if they can’t earn a living…For people to be independent, they have to pursue happiness, they can’t be given dependence…You have a job-killing administration…America only works when Americans are working. We’re not a country designed to have everybody on food stamps and welfare.”

Gingrich called the jobs report “horrifying” because it shows unemployed, underemployed and those who’ve dropped out of the workforce is growing.

“So I would argue in terms of social policy that one of the first things every pro-family group in the country should do is demand” an end to Obama Administration “job killing” policies.

“Virtually every economic problem we have is caused by bad policies and you could turn it around very fast,” Gingrich told the crowd.

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