“If you look at my father and you just knew him as governor — raised taxes, signed an abortion bill, no-fault divorce, and a few other things — today, the argument against him would come from the right, not from the left.  He would have trouble getting his own nomination, but yet he ended up being the greatest president in our lifetimes.  We need to look at the whole package, the whole picture, everybody, and stop nit-picking ourselves to death.”  Michael Reagan

Is Michael Reagan right?  When looking at the pros and cons of the GOP candidates are we defeating our own party by nitpicking our candidates to death?  And also, do we have a contender who can beat Barack Obama in 2012?

So far anyone who’s gotten even a little close to Romney’s lead has been torn to shreds by the left and the right.  So today I’m going to focus on one candidate who is still hanging in there near the top:  Newt Gingrich.

I got to briefly interview the former Speaker at a Pasadena Tea Party event.  I was impressed that he took the time to talk to me and looked me directly in the eye when he spoke.  He didn’t mince his words with me and he answered my questions brilliantly without even a pause to think.

Of course, that alone isn’t reason for me to back him (or anyone) as President.  At this point, I’m personally still exploring who I do and don’t like and trying to fight through the media block that surrounds each of our GOP candidates.

Following is some of the research I’ve done in trying to find out who Newt Gingrich really is (at least as much as you can find out via articles and videos).  I wanted to push through some of the rhetoric that’s being said about Gingrich—from the left and the right as well as his responses to some of those glaring red flags that surround him.

NEWT GINGRICH:  Former Speaker of the House under Clinton 95-99 (House Minority Whip 89-95) 

NEWT’S PLANS:

ImmigrationBelieves in strong immigration reform

Jobs and the EconomyNewt has a pro-growth strategy similar to the proven policies used when he was Speaker to balance the budget, pay down the debt, and create jobs.

An American Energy Plan: Newt has an American Energy Plan that would maximize energy production from all sources–oil, natural gas, wind, biofuels, nuclear, clean coal, & would encourage clean energy innovation without discouraging overall energy production.

HealthcareObamacare creates layers of new taxes, regulations, and bureaucracies that will ultimately make our problems worse, not better. Newt proposes a “Patient Power” plan that will save lives and save money.

A 21st Century Learning System: Improve education especially in math & science & move from a bureaucrat-dominated status quo to an innovative system that emphasizes accountability, transparency, and parental choice.

Protecting Life and Religious LibertySecular radicals are trying to remove “our Creator” – the source of our rights – from public life. Newt has an aggressive strategy to defend life and religious liberty in America.

Day One Plan: Newt has pledged to issue a series of Executive Orders to create jobs and help undo the damage of the Obama administration on the first day of his administration.

PROS: 

Vast experience in all aspects of government

Strong, solid plans for job/economy reform

Proven leadership abilities

GREAT record:  Newt Gingrich is the architect of the Contract with America that led the Republican Party to victory in 1994 by capturing the majority in the U.S. House for the first time in forty years.

Under Newt’s leadership:

1. Congress passed the first balanced budget in a generation, leading to the repayment of over $400 billion in debt.

2. Congress cut taxes for the first time in sixteen years and reformed welfare, leading to over sixty percent of welfare recipients either getting a job or going to school.

3. Congress restored & strengthened defense funding & intelligence capabilities, an action later lauded by the bipartisan 9/11 Commission.

4. Served on the Defense Policy Board under President George W. Bush.

5. Longest-serving teacher of the Joint War Fighting course for Major Generals at Air University and taught officers from all five services

6. In 1999, appointed to the United States Commission on National Security/21st Century, for national security challenges as far out as 2025.

7. Helped save Medicare from bankruptcy, prompted FDA reform to help the seriously ill and initiated a new focus on research, prevention, and wellness.

IMPECIBLE debating/communicating abilities.  Can you IMAGINE a debate between Obama and Gingrich?  I say go ahead and give Obama his teleprompter, earbuds with someone telling him what to say or whatever advantage he chooses—Gingrich will MOP THE FLOOR with him!  (The “con” side of this equation is that if this were to happen, Hillary will probably be waiting in the wings to win 2012…)

CONS: 

THREE MARRIAGES:

  • In 1962, he married Jackie Battley, his former high school geometry teacher; he was 19, she was 26.  (Two daughters:   Kathy Gingrich Lubbers & Jackie Gingrich Cushman)
  • Gingrich left Battley after having an affair with Marianne Ginther. Acc. to Battley in 1980 Gingrich & their children visited her in the hospital recovering from surgery; Gingrich wanted to discuss the terms of their divorce.  (NOTE:  Newt disputes this & in 2011 daughter Jackie said it was her mother who requested the divorce prior to the hospital stay.)
  • Six months after the divorce from Battley was final, Gingrich wed Marianne Ginther in 1981.  In mid 90’s cheated on Ginther w/House of Rep staffer Callista Bisek, 23 years his junior.
  • In 2000, Gingrich married Bisek shortly after his divorce from second wife Ginther.

NEWT’S RESPONSE to David Brody, Christian Broadcasting Network:  “There’s no question at times in my life, partially driven by how passionately I felt about this country, that I worked too hard and things happened in my life that were not appropriate.”

ETHICS VIOLATIONS:  Gingrich is only Speaker to have been disciplined for ethics violations; 84 ethics charges were filed against him; 83 were dropped. The remaining charge concerned a 20-hour college course Gingrich taught through a tax-deductible foundation. In ‘97 the House reprimanded Gingrich w/a $300,000 “cost assessment” to recoup money spent on the investigation. In ‘99, the IRS cleared the organizations connected with the courses.

As Speaker, GOP lost five seats in the House ‘98 midterm elections, worst performance in 64 years for a party that didn’t hold the presidency. Facing a rebellion in the Republican caucus, in 98 he stepped down as Speaker & left the House.

2006 “GREEN” COMMERCIAL WITH NANCY PELOSI:

NEWT’S RESPONSE, July 2011 USA Today: “Look, I was, I was trying to make a point that we shouldn’t be afraid to debate the Left, even on the environment, that was obviously misconstrued, and that’s one of the things I probably wouldn’t do again.”

AMNESTY?  Strong stance on immigration reform & protecting borders, but he’s against deporting 11 million people who have lived & worked in the US for 20 years or more.

NEWT’S RESPONSE, Washington Post:  “We will not deport a population as large as the state of Ohio’s, and any candidate who says otherwise is either ignorant or a hypocrite…we would need to know about the holding pens, the roundup procedures developed for law enforcement and how we would deal with families that have both legal and illegal members.”

FANNIE MAE/FREDDIE MAC MONEY:  His consulting firm, Gingrich Group, collected fees of approx. $1.6 million when Gingrich was NOT in office.
NEWT’S RESPONSE, Greta Van Susteren interview on Fox News:  “I never lobbied for Freddie Mac or Fannie Mae while I was in public office.  [Gingrich Group] was approached to offer strategic advice…It was only from Freddie Mac. We never got anything from Fannie Mae. It was over a number of years.”
VAN SUSTEREN
asked difference between Gingrich Group receiving money & his criticism of Obama admin for doing same.  He said:  “The difference is that under the leadership of Barney Frank and Chris Dodd in the Congress and of the president, those institutions have gotten $156 billion of taxpayers’ money.  I was a private citizen. What I didn’t do and would not do is I didn’t go and lobby the Congress…[or the] executive branch. I didn’t try to represent any position I didn’t believe in beforehand.  Barney Frank…thinks that what he does as a congressman in charge of writing a bill is the same as what a private citizen does.”

My overview:  Even Reagan would be called a RINO in 2011 for some of his stances; no one’s perfect but we certainly need someone with Reagan’s convictions regarding foreign threat in the White House.

I personally believe we should start focusing on the House and Senate races in 2012 because no matter who ends up being president, we’ve got to make sure we have the majority in Washington because we’ve all seen what happens when we don’t.

All in all, I’m backing whoever runs against Barack Obama—whether it’s Gingrich or Romney or a paper clip.