Newt Gingrich photo

Gingrich Gingrich Campaign Press Release - Video: Newt Criticizes Those in GOP Who Want to Back Down From Fight on Debt Ceiling

July 13, 2011

Newt criticizes Senator McConnell's proposal to give President Obama the power to raise the debt limit, saying that the GOP must be willing to stand strong and fight. He cites his struggle as Speaker of the House with President Clinton over the budget. It was a tough fight but the ultimate result was four straight years of a balanced budget.

The AP was there and filed this report:

NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) — Congressional Republicans should not relent in the battle with President Barack Obama over raising the federal debt ceiling, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich said during a presidential campaign swing through South Carolina on Tuesday.


"What Republicans shouldn't do is try to back down from this fight," Gingrich said to loud applause from about 150 people attending a town hall meeting organized by the Charleston Tea Party. South Carolina is holding the South's first GOP primary.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell offered on Tuesday to hand the president powers to avert the first-ever government default threatened for Aug. 2. But Gingrich said he doesn't know what McConnell was trying to accomplish.

"The Washington media will tell you we made a huge mistake closing the federal government in 1995 and 1996," he said. "I will tell you as one of the people who did it — baloney."

He said Republicans in Congress during his time showed the American people they were serious enough about balancing the budget they were willing to let the government close.

"I would say to the Republicans in Washington today that you have to have the courage to stand for what you believe in. You have to trust that the American people are smarter than the elite media thinks they are and the political consultants think they are. You have to be able to go nose-to-nose with the president to win the argument."

Byron York was at the same townhall and picked up on Newt's references to Ulysses S. Grant:

NORTH CHARLESTON, SC — Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich says GOP negotiators in Washington should push debt-ceiling talks to the deadline — and beyond — in an effort to pressure President Obama to agree to spending cuts. Speaking after a Tea Party town hall meeting here, Gingrich suggested that the new McConnell plan — which Gingrich earlier called "an irresponsible surrender to big government, big deficits, and continued overspending" — is a tactical blunder in a fight that should go to the very last moment.

Gingrich cited a passage in Gen. Ulysses S. Grant's memoirs in which Grant, worried that his troops were fatigued and frightened, learned that enemy troops were just as fatigued and just as frightened. "The other guy gets tired, the other guy gets scared," Gingrich said, urging Republicans to remember that the White House and Democrats have their own fears in the debt-limit battle. Switching from war to football, Gingrich continued: "Vince Lombardi used to argue that the team that broke last won the game, and he trained the Packers to have enormous endurance for that reason. Fatigue makes cowards of us all."

How does that apply to the debt-ceiling talks? "I would say that you don't know until one o'clock in the morning on the second of August what deal the President of the United States is going to cut in order to avoid being the first president in American history to default," the former House Speaker said. "The Republicans shouldn't accept all that burden. They ought to say, he's the president — how can he live through a default? Why would you want to reduce the pressure one minute?"


[Gingrich] cited the government shutdowns of 1995 and 1996 as examples of battles in which Republicans refused the back down and — despite declarations of disaster by many in the press and some Republicans — eventually prevailed. "I have no idea what [McConnell's] motivation is," Gingrich said. "I do know from my experience that we got to four balanced budgets, we got to welfare reform, we got to the first tax cut in 16 years because we weren't prepared to back off. Clinton eventually came to the realization he could only function as president working with us, because we'd never back off."

Newt Gingrich, Gingrich Gingrich Campaign Press Release - Video: Newt Criticizes Those in GOP Who Want to Back Down From Fight on Debt Ceiling Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

Simple Search of Our Archives