Newt Gingrich continued his bad week in the press after daring to call Paul Ryan's voucher plan for Medicare "right-wing social engineering" on Meet the Press last Sunday. Bob Schieffer took his turn going after Gingrich for his double talk on Ryan's budget plan and for saying he was for an individual mandate before he was against it.
Schieffer also asked Gingrich about whether he was losing donors after his criticism of Ryan last week which Gingrich denied. Gingrich insisted that his candidacy was still alive and well. His proof, a lot of people turned out to see him in Iowa and Minneapolis.
Here's more from Think Progress his double-speak after the Meet the Press interview -- CBS’s Face The Nation Dismantles Gingrich’s Lie That He ‘Wasn’t Referring To Ryan’:
When the right-wing base predictably flipped out at Gingrich’s criticism of Ryan, Gingrich quickly folded, calling Ryan to personally apologize while stating on Fox News on Tuesday night that his comments were an “unfortunate…mistake.” But by Thursday, Gingrich offered a new formulation to Rush Limbaugh, arguing that his original comments about “right-wing social engineering” were not a reference to Paul Ryan.
This morning on CBS’s Face the Nation, Gingrich trotted out the same excuse. “I wasn’t referring to Ryan,” Gingrich pleaded. Host Bob Schieffer then played a clip of Gingrich on Meet the Press last week, in which Gingrich explicitly said Ryan’s plan was “too big a jump.” Caught in a trap of his own making, Gingrich could only say that Ryan’s plan is a “big plan that needs to be worked through.”
Full transcript via CBS News below the fold.
SCHIEFFER: You heard at the top of this broadcast, we kind of laid it out there. You began your campaign last week on Meet The Press with what I have to say was just withering criticism of the plan passed by the Republican House to replace Medicare with government subsidized private insurance and-- and you heard them. You’ve heard them all week. Republicans from Rush Limbaugh to Governor Nikki Haley of South Carolina to Paul Ryan himself cried foul. Then you backed off and said you made a mistake. But you sounded pretty certain. And I just want to go back and-- and let’s listen to what you said--
SCHIEFFER: --last week.
(Meet the Press May 9, 2011)
GREGORY: Do you think that Republicans ought to buck the public opposition and really move forward to completely change Medicare, turn it into a voucher program where you give seniors--
GREGORY: --some premium support and so that they can go out and buy private insurance?
GINGRICH: I don’t think right wing social engineering is anymore desirable than left wing social engineering. I don’t think imposing radical change from the right or the left is a very good way for a free society to operate.
SCHIEFFER: So then, you go on television and you just totally retract that. You said I’ve made a mistake. Well, you sounded awfully certain when you said it. What happened here?
GINGRICH: Look if-- if you go back and replay what David Gregory asked.
SCHIEFFER: Well, I did.
GINGRICH: Yeah. No, I’m just saying. If you listen to his words, he doesn’t say how do you feel about Paul Ryan? I like Paul Ryan. Didn’t even say how do you feel about Ryan’s budget? I would have voted for Ryan’s budget. He said should Republicans pass an unpopular plan? And I made the mistake of accepting his premise. I wasn’t referring to Ryan. I was referring to a general principle. We, the people, should not have Washington impose large-scale change on us. Paul Ryan has begun a process-- he and I’ve talked about it several times this week. And we go back many years. Paul Ryan has begun a process. It’s an important process. This is the third time we’ve seen a Medi-scare campaign by the Democrats against Reagan and--
GINGRICH: --now just listen-- but--
SCHIEFFER: --go ahead.
GINGRICH: --but-- my context was we Republicans have to go to the country, we have to explain what we’re trying to accomplish to save Medicare, how we would save Medicare. The country has to have time, the American people have to have time to ask us questions, to modify the plan if necessary, to get to a point where people are comfortable with it and that was my point. I-- I probably used unfortunate language about social engineering. But my point was really a larger one that neither party should impose on the American people something that they are deeply opposed to.
SCHIEFFER: Well-- well, do you think Republicans ought to run with the Paul Ryan plan? I mean is it good social--
GINGRICH: I think--
SCHIEFFER: --engineering here?
GINGRICH: --there was not a question as good social engineering. The question is I believe Republicans should start with the Ryan plan, should go to the country and explain it. But should listen to the American people and where necessary modify it. I think this is what Paul Ryan believes. It’s not going to be a-- a yes or no. This is the-- and this is what’s sad about what’s happening. This is the beginning of a profound conversation about a fiscal crisis that is going to crush this country.
SCHIEFFER: Well, I know-- I know you said you weren’t even talking about Paul Ryan. You told Rush Limbaugh the same thing. But listen to what you went on to say in this interview with-- with David Gregory. Here’s part two.
(Meet the Press May 9, 2011)
GINGRICH: So there are things you can do to improve Medicare.
GREGORY: But not what Paul Ryan is suggesting--
GINGRICH: I-- I think--
GREGORY: --which is completely--
GINGRICH: --I think--
GREGORY: --changing Medicare.
GINGRICH: -- I think that that is too big a jump. I think what you want to have is a system where people voluntarily migrate to better outcomes, better solutions, better options not one where you suddenly impose upon them. I don’t want to-- I’m-- I’m not against Obama care which is--
GINGRICH: --imposing radical change and I would be against a--
SCHIEFFER: So there you are. You were talking about Paul Ryan.
GINGRICH: And I said-- and I said-- and Paul agrees that the-- the plan can be modified. I would modify it frankly to start much earlier than he does but I’ll modify it in a way that will move in the direction he’s going and would modify it in a way that people could voluntarily decide. Are there things that can be done to improve Medicare that they would like to do?
When-- when you deal with a program of this size and-- and I don’t think anybody, including Paul Ryan believes that you come out and say take it or leave it. This-- this is the beginning of a conversation. He and I are on the same side in that conversation. Obama is on the opposite side of that conversation. And I think that’s an important thing to keep in mind.
SCHIEFFER: Well, as what you’re saying then is that the Paul Ryan plan is not too big a jump. You said, it’s--
SCHIEFFER: --too big a jump. It’s too radical.
SCHIEFFER: You’re saying now--
GINGRICH: Yes, it is. I think--
SCHIEFFER: --it’s not too radical---
GINGRICH: --I think well--
SCHIEFFER: --it’s not too big a jump?
GINGRICH: --I think-- I think it is a big plan that needs to be worked through with the American people. In that process it will clearly be modified. And I think if Republicans approach it that way and have a conversation with the American people, we will in fact totally defeat the Democrat scare tactics and the American people will give us permission to have a very significant reform of Medicare.
SCHIEFFER: Are you saying that this is going to be the Republican plan? Because here’s what I’m saying to you, Democrats are just licking their chops here. They’re saying, man, I hope we can get him out there and have them against Medicare because if they can, we can beat them. I mean they’re-- they’re running ads with you in them saying--
GINGRICH: But-- right, but that--
GINGRICH: Look, this is the third time in my career this has happened. They tried to scare people about Ronald Reagan. And Ronald Reagan carried more states than FDR carried in ‘32. They tried to scare people in ’96 about our effort to save Medicare. We were the first reelected House Republicans since 1928. If we have the courage to stand toe to toe and say this is a fiscal crisis, we have every right as a country to talk through how to get to a better Medicare system and it is shameful for the Democrats to lie about it, we will in fact win that debate for the third time in my lifetime.
SCHIEFFER: Let me ask you about a-- a mandate that people are ought to be required to buy--
SCHIEFFER: --insurance. You at various times in your career have said that they should. That everybody ought to pay and have some-- some part in paying for-- for medical care. Do you believe in a mandate or not?
GINGRICH: No. No, I do not believe in a mandate.
SCHIEFFER: You do concede you have said in the past--
SCHIEFFER: --that you did.
GINGRICH: Well, then the Heritage Foundation has said they were for it at one time. All of us have wrestled with two problems. How do we maximize individual freedom and how do we make sure that people have some responsibility for their debts? There are a lot of people who refuse to pay for their health bill, including people with money. And so, we’re trying to find a way to match both. I believe that we ought to go to the Tenth Amendment approach, return a lot of this power back to the states, recognize that decades of Washington in trying to solve it have failed and try to find a way to re-approach this. I do not believe in mandates.
In fact, I think that in many ways they’re unconstitutional, both on religious liberty grounds and on personal liberty grounds, but we all have been wrestling with this for a long time. And I think, you know, I’m not going to get involved in a gotcha game. I-- I’ve voted seven thousand times and given five thousand speeches and probably ten thousand interviews. So people can go back and pick up a sentence here and there. I have a-- I’m running for President because this country needs very dramatic change. I’m going to outline a program of very dramatic change. And I’m prepared to debate and defend that program.
SCHIEFFER: How much did this hurt you politically? I am told that when hours after you appeared on Meet The Press last Sunday, some of your big donors were on the phone saying you’ve got to get off this or your donations are going to dry up. I’m told that in fact one campaign fundraiser was canceled last Sunday. Is that true?
GINGRICH: Not that I know of. But, you know, to be honest, I-- I-- I don’t know it. Look, I spent all week in Iowa. I was in seventeen towns. I was also briefly in Lacrosse, in Minneapolis. And in seventeen towns in Iowa, they managed to catch the one person. I-- I think I talked to over two thousand people in meetings. In-- in Ames, Iowa, we thought we would have forty people at two in the afternoon. We had a hundred and seventy-eight.
On one particular day, we had to move three out of five meetings because the rooms weren’t big enough. Everywhere I went in Iowa, people wanted to know how do we defeat Obamacare, how do we get the budget balanced, how do we create jobs, how do we solve our energy problem? They were not paying attention to the noise level in Washington, DC. And so, I had this unusual experience that I was actually having a great time. I was reading the Iowa Media, I was talking to Iowans, and the campaign looked very, very alive if you were in Iowa.
SCHIEFFER: So, when people say and-- and-- and you’re right.
SCHIEFFER: That’s what they’re saying in the national media. I have not heard one single Republican come to your defense, perhaps there was one. But I haven’t heard it here in Washington. When they say your campaign’s already imploded, that it’s over before it started, you’re saying not yet.
GINGRICH: Well, I-- I think it’s amazing, the only national reporter who came to Iowa, Mara Liasson of NPR and-- and Fox, Sunday Morning. She came to two overflow meetings and she looked around. I think it was pretty clear to her this campaign was a long way from over. None of the people rendering judgment of Washington had talked to the voters in Iowa, none.