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Wednesday, May 18, 2011, 9:35 am

Newt Gingrich Is Good at Losing Friends

By Minjae Park
What was meant to be a high-publicity campaign launch on NBC’s Meet the Press Sunday backfired, undermining Newt Gingrich’s presidential ambitions the same week he announced his candidacy.

Asked about Rep. Paul Ryan's (R-Wis.) Medicare voucher plan, Gingrich said, “I don't think right-wing social engineering is any more 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.”

He continued: “I'm against Obamacare, which is imposing radical change, and I would be against a conservative imposing radical change.”

“This is a big deal, he’s done,” conservative syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer said on Fox News. “He didn’t have a big chance from the beginning, but now it’s over.” Other conservatives are fuming at comments the former Speaker of the House made on the Sunday morning talk show.

During the program, Meet the Press host David Gregory played a tape of Gingrich from 1993 saying he was for all individuals “being required to have health insurance,” i.e., the individual mandate. Gingrich clarified that he was for a “variation” of the individual mandate.

On Monday, Gingrich revised this stance in a video posted on his YouTube channel: “I am completely opposed to the Obamacare mandate on individuals. … I am against any effort to impose a federal mandate on anyone because it is fundamentally wrong and, I believe, unconstitutional.”



The backpedaling on the individual mandate hasn’t abated a conservative backlash, with the likes of Rush Limbaugh, National Review editor Rich Lowry, Bill Bennett, the Wall Street Journal editorial page, South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley (R), and an Iowa voter joining Krauthammer in condemning Gingrich for his remarks on the Ryan plan. Ryan told Laura Ingraham, "With allies like that, who needs the left?"

Even without this latest setback, Gingrich’s path to the presidency was strewn with obstacles: his adultery, his three marriages, his conversion to Catholicism, his age (68), his 12-year hiatus from elected office, scars from his battles with President Clinton, his flip-flopping on Libya and his support of Dinesh D’Souza’s “Kenyan anti-colonialism” theory to explain the president’s worldview.

A litmus test for Republican presidential hopefuls will be whether or not they support Ryan’s budget plan, which passed the House with all but four Republicans votes. Gingrich previously supported Ryan's plan, but for some reason, decided to stray from his conservative allegiances.

"He trodded on some sacred cows as defined by this campaign," Limbaugh said on his radio show.

Gingrich has apologized to Ryan for calling his plan "right-wing social engineering." Could the apology be the beginning of the end for his campaign? Will Newt Gingrich become the GOP's next Donald Trump? A fast-growing number of people are hoping the answer to those questions are yes.
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