Newt Gingrich Gets Confronted Over His Personal Morality, Or Lack Thereof

In a public forum last night, someone finally asked Newt Gingrich the question that’s been on everyone’s mind for years now:

Newt Gingrich’s speech at the University of Pennsylvania on Tuesday quickly took a turn for the dramatic when the first student to question him brought up his admitted extramarital affair and accused him of being “hypocritical” for espousing moral values.

“You adamantly oppose gay rights … but you’ve also been married three times and admitted to having an affair with your current wife while you were still married to your second,” Isabel Friedman, president of Penn Democrats, said to Gingrich. “As a successful politician who’s considering running for president, who would set the bar for moral conduct and be the voice of the American people, how do you reconcile this hypocritical interpretation of the religious values that you so vigorously defend?”

Newt responded:

“I’ll bet almost everybody here can gather the thrust of your question,” he said. “I appreciate the delicacy and generosity in the way it was framed. … I hope you feel better about yourself.”

“I’ve had a life which, on occasion, has had problems,” he added. “I believe in a forgiving God, and the American people will have to decide whether [that’s] their primary concern. If the primary concern of the American people is my past, my candidacy would be irrelevant. If the primary concern of the American people is the future … that’s a debate I’ll be happy to have with your candidate or any other candidate if I decide to run.”

Friedman is a Democrat and she obviously wanted to embarrass Gingrich. Nonetheless, the number of social conservatives who I’ve met, both at CPAC and online, who’ve said that they will not support Gingrich in part because of his personal morality is quite large. Fiscal conservatives have similarly lost patience with Gingrich over his support for this like Medicare Part D, No Child Left Behind, and TARP. Without support from those two wings of the party, I can’t see how Gingrich’s run for office is anything other than an exercise in vanity.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2012, Quick Takes, US Politics,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Chad S says:

    You meet a lot of hot chicks out on the campaign trail….

  2. Brummagem Joe says:

    Of course he didn’t address the question just beat up on a female student with his cheap “feel better” verbal tricks. The arrogance of this guy is amazing.

  3. About the best answer he could give, given the circumstances.

  4. sam says:

    “I can’t see how Gingrich’s run for office is anything other than an exercise in vanity”

    Can you point to one political by this blowhard that wasn’t an exercise in vanity?

  5. Kylopod says:

    >“I’ve had a life which, on occasion, has had problems,” he said.

    Notice that he doesn’t take responsibility for those problems. It’s the same language you might use to describe, say, the death of a loved one, or rising from bankruptcy, or living through cancer. He’d have been a lot more persuasive if he’d simply stated that he had made mistakes. But no, even that’s too much for him to admit.

  6. JD says:

    “I’ve done some things that I regret” would have been a good introduction to his answer, too.

    Bye, Newt.

  7. wr says:

    Or he could have told the truth: “Sure, I’ve been a scumbag. But Republican’s don’t actually mind voting for scumbags as long as we condemn other people for their immorality.”

  8. MM says:

    “Mistakes were made”.

  9. Brummagem Joe says:

    “About the best answer he could give, given the circumstances.”

    Not really. When you get these kind of questions grace is essential…then you bs on about life’s long and winding road, we all make mistakes, I try to be a good person, etercetera, etercetera, etercetera

  10. legion says:

    wr: +1
    It’s one thing to proverbially ‘hold your nose’ and vote for a candidate with whom you don’t always agree. It’s something else altogether to support someone who actively embodies and practices the opposite of damn near every moral value you hold dear.

  11. anjin-san says:

    Newt’s strong resemblance to a reptile is quite appropriate…

    Not even a tiny shred of class.

  12. Mr. Gingrich, based on your answer, I’d like to ask a followup question: are you stupid or do you just think we are?

  13. Kylopod says:

    >Mr. Gingrich, based on your answer, I’d like to ask a followup question: are you stupid or do you just think we are?

    Having followed his career since the ’90s, I know the answer: it is #2. The man is fairly smart, but his political instincts are way overrated. After his impressive rise to power, he basically led the GOP off a cliff. And I think most party insiders realize that by now.

  14. wr says:

    He was one of those Republicans that the press falls in love with. They decided he was a genius and a great leader, and no matter how many times facts proved them wrong they would never let go of that impression.

    This is now happening with Paul Ryan and Chris Christie…

  15. Steve Plunk says:

    Certainly this is Newt’s Achilles’ heel and a good reason he should aim for a policy post rather than president or vice president.

    His answer to the question was appropriate for the way it was asked. If the student chose to wade into a fight then she shouldn’t be surprised to get politely slapped.

    We all have had problems in life and should understand the difference between striving for a better country through policy and failing personally.

  16. An Interested Party says:

    “Certainly this is Newt’s Achilles’ heel…”

    More like his diseased limb…

    “We all have had problems in life and should understand the difference between striving for a better country through policy and failing personally.”

    Awwwww…I’m so sure you showed the same magnanimity to, say, Bill Clinton, right?

  17. anjin-san says:

    > Awwwww…I’m so sure you showed the same magnanimity to, say, Bill Clinton, right?

    Come on. Clinton was slime who forever damaged the moral fiber of America. Newt is just a guy who gets a little confused sometimes…

  18. eNeecie says:

    And let’s not forget this.