Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, never one to mince words, explained Thursday why conservatives were up in arms over a Mitt Romney spokeswoman’s invocation of Mr. Romney’s Massachusetts health care law Wednesday, and why, as a questioner put it, he doesn’t have the same “hold on the activist wing of his party as the president does.”
“Well, I think for a very practical reason,” Mr. Gingrich said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” “Barack Obama is a Saul Alinsky radical,” invoking the name of left-wing activist and organizer.
“Barack Obama is the last hope of left-wingers in America,” Mr. Gingrich added. “They will swallow almost anything in order to get him re-elected because they know that at 8.3 percent unemployment, he is in grave, grave danger of getting defeated, and they know that for their world view, for their idea of a government-run, politician-defined left-wing world, his defeat will be a catastrophe.”
Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul invoked Mr. Romney’s Massachusetts health care overhaul Wednesday while attacking an independent pro-Obama ad that featured a laid-off steelworker at a plant taken over by Mr. Romney’s former company, Bain Capital, whose wife subsequently died from cancer after the worker lost his job and his health insurance. Republicans have sharply criticized the veracity of the ad, but Ms. Saul’s defense of Mr. Romney’s controversial health care plan muddied the attack and outraged many conservatives.
“To that point, if people had been in Massachusetts, under Governor Romney’s plan, they would have had health care,” Ms. Saul said on Fox News. “There are a lot of people losing jobs and losing health care in President Obama’s economy.”
The defense was somewhat odd, considering that Mr. Romney has downplayed the law on the campaign trail, while Mr. Obama’s team gleefully proclaims it as a model for the president’s own 2010 national health law. Conservatives ranging from talk show host Rush Limbaugh to commentator Erick Erickson blasted Ms. Saul’s comments on Wednesday.
Bill Burton, a former White House staffer who is now with the Super PAC Priorities USA, which was behind the steelworker ad, has not backed away from it, and the campaign has distanced itself from it. But Mr. Gingrich suggested anyway that the White House or the campaign could have been coordinating with the group — a violation of election law.
“The idea that [former White House press secretary Robert] Gibbs is not close to Obama is pathetic,” he said. “So clearly this ad was in some way approvable by the general team.”