While taking questions from a crowd of more than 50 people at Jones Memorial A.M.E. Zion Church, the Associated Press reports that Gingrich faced tough questions about past statements he made regarding work ethic in poor communities, and his criticism of President Barack Obama as a “food-stamp president.”
Gingrich said his comments were misconstrued.
MSNBC reports on one back-and-fourth that the Georgia Republican faced:
“’You made a statement about kids getting free lunch and about them working as janitors to pay for their free lunch — if you could clarify that,’ a man asked Gingrich right away during the question and answer session.
‘Well I didn’t say anything about free lunch. What I said was in the poorest neighborhoods, if we could find a way to help young people earn some money, we might actually be able to keep the dropout rate down and give people an incentive to come to school,’ Gingrich responded. ‘My goal is to say, young people who start early who get a job, who earn a little bit of money, can help their family, they can help themselves, they learn the work habit.’
‘Good response,’ the man shouted after Gingrich wrapped up the answer.”
The Wall Street Journal reports that the skeptical and “occasionally hostile” crowd was made up largely of African-Americans, many of whom said they were Democrats.