The campaign of Republican Presidential candidate Newt Gingrich is scrambling to put some of his recent remarks in context amid accusations of racism.
As Speaker of the House in the early 90s, welfare reform was one of his signature issues, and improving poverty in America is part of his stump speech.
Though his comments are not always politically correct or well received by some groups, Newt doesn’t hold back when it comes to ethnic communities.
Such was the case yesterday in Plymouth, N.H.:
“And so I’m prepared if the NAACP invites me, I’ll go to their convention and talk about why the African American community should demand paychecks, not be satisfied with food stamps,” Gingrich said on a campaign visit.
If Gingrich wins the Republican nomination (an increasingly unlikely outcome), “I will make the key test very simple – food stamps versus paychecks.”
“Obama is the best food stamp president in American history. More people are on food stamps today because of Obama’s policies than ever in history,” he said.
“I would like to be the best paycheck president in American history.”
He suggested that some school janitors should be fired and children should work part time within their school for money and “pride in their community.”
The Gingrich campaign immediately responded to criticism, saying his NAACP comments were an effort to reach out to the African American community.
The Gingrich campaign pointed to Gingrich’s book Real Change, in which Gingrich was critical of President Bush’s “failure to address the NAACP.”
The 68-year-old said it was a “clear signal to the African American community that Republicans did not see them as worthy of engagement in dialogue.”
Gingrich said he would reach out to any ethnic community that would listen.
“There’s no neighborhood I know of in America where if you went around and asked people, ‘Would you rather your children had food stamps or paychecks? You would end up with a majority saying they’d rather have a paycheck.”
Blowing smoke? Telling it like it is? Offensive? Refreshing? You tell us.