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Newt Gingrich did NOT say that he doesn’t want gay votes

Timothy Kincaid

December 21st, 2011

I don’t like being played for a fool. And that is exactly what happened when Jason Clayworth posted a commentary entitled, Newt Gingrich to gay Iowan: Vote for Obama.

At BTB we pride ourselves on our accuracy and on our unwillingness to run with “spin” as though it were news. And it turns out that the interchange between Scott Arnold and Newt Gingrich is significantly different than it is being reported.

Here is the full exchange:

Arnold: My question is how to plan to engage such a large community of people who, on this one specific issue, do not support you – may agree with you on the other parts of what you stand for – but how do you plan to engage and get the vote of gay Americans if you don’t support them?

Gingrich: I think that those for whom the only issue that matters is the definition of marriage, I won’t get their support. And I accept that that’s a reality. On the other hand, for those for whom it’s not the central issue in their life, that they care about job creation, they care about national security, that they care about a better future for the country at large, then I think I’ll get their support.

Arnold: But what if it is the biggest issue?

Gingrich: Then I won’t get their support.

Arnold: How do we engage if you’re elected? Then what? What does that mean?

Gingrich: Then you engage on every topic except that.

Arnold: Except the one that’s most important?

Gingrich: If that the most important topic to you…

Arnold: (crosstalk but appears to be) to many many people

Gingrich: Well if that’s most important to you, then you should be for Obama. I think that’s a personal decision.

Arnold: Thank you.

Newt Gingrich gave the only answer that any candidate could give when presented with “I disagree with you on Issue X and Issue X is the most important issue to me.” There simply is no other answer than, “So don’t vote for me.”

But let’s be VERY CLEAR here. Newt Gingrich did NOT say that he “didn’t need” Arnold’s support. He did NOT tell gay Iowans to vote for Obama. Rather Gingrich suggested that if marriage is not the central issue in their life that they consider other issues on which agreement might be found.

I do consider other issues. I care about job creation. And I care about national security. And I very much care about a better future for the country at large.

However, I am not at this point convinced that Newt Gingrich will dramatically increase job creation or, for that matter, that “creating jobs” is somehow either the role of president or even a possibility for a president outside of massive governmental hiring. And I know increasing the size of government is not what I believe will lead to long term prosperity.

As for national security issues, I think that the President has been far far better on these issues than I ever expected. Mrs. Clinton was an ideal selection for Secretary of State, and I suspect that on the issue of foreign relations and national security that Mr. Obama has been a bit of a disappointment to some of my more liberal friends.

So that brings me to “a better future for the country at large”. It is my firmly held belief that a country which honors its citizens and protects the rights and equality of all citizens – especially those who are least liked by those in power – promises a better future than one which denies equality based on religious or other personal biases.

So I see nothing in Newt’s answer that would entice anyone to select him over any of the other Republican choices or over President Obama. And while marriage equality is not necessarily the most important issue (if it were, our community would be re-registering Republican to vote for either Fred Karger or Gary Johnson, the only presidential candidates who fully support marriage), as a gay man I cannot ignore the attitudes that will influence and direct a whole host of issues that impact me and my community. And on gay issue – past, current, and in any conceivable possible future – Newt Gingrich has shown himself to be a man who scoffs at the promises of the US Constitution and who is inclined to think that his personal church choices should override our nation’s underlying ideals.

Taken as a whole, Newt Gingrich is simply not an acceptable candidate and I cannot fathom a likely scenario in which I would vote for him for President in either a primary or general election.

But I greatly resent those who mischaracterize the exchange and lie to me about what Gingrich said. And it’s pointless as well. I’m not a fool, I can make intelligent decisions based on real statements. Gingrich’s positions are bad enough, you don’t have to make up bullsh!t and try to get me to buy into it.

Very very not classy.

Comments

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Reed Boyer
December 21st, 2011 | LINK

The exchange wasn’t “mischaractered” (nor “mischaracterized”). If we cut to the chase (and don’t go through your process of examination point by point, as I did, before arriving at the same conclusion), we are left with (my analysis): “If that’s what’s most important to you, vote for the other guy.”

And that flat statement ” . . . you should be for Obama” (the actual quote from Gingrich)is arrived at after much side-stepping and intellectualist pontificating.

So the spin, rightly, for those to whom this is THE issue (and I’d be among those): “Gingrich says, “Vote for Obama.”

And, given the context of the entire conversation, I’d say that the shortened version is accurate. Gingrich will not engage on the issue. Does not wish to.
Vote for Obama.

Timothy Kincaid
December 21st, 2011 | LINK

Reed,

Thanks for the typo. Corrected.

From your comment, is it safe to assume that you are registered Republican? Because if marriage equality is THE issue for you, you certainly can’t vote to reelect Barack Obama. He has not evolved to the place where he supports marriage equality. Rather, you need to vote for one of the only two presidential candidates who do endorse marriage equality. Both are running as Republicans.

I agree with your analysis that the conversation can be summarized as “If that’s what’s most important to you, vote for the other guy.” But that is not how it’s being reported.

Billy Bradford
December 21st, 2011 | LINK

Marriage is not the most important issue to me, but being treated equally under the civil laws in this country, ALL the civil laws, is very important to me. The 14th Amendment to the Constitution is important to me. So what Newt Gingrich just said to ME is that he does NOT support equal protection under the law for gay couples, because that’s what marriage equality actually is. Equality under the law. And if that issue is the most important thing to me, I should vote for Obama. So I will. Every single Republican candidate has publicly stated that they do not support full federal equality for gay people, because that’s what marriage equality is a part of. Sadly President Obama has NOT voiced support for the same thing – but he will, and we will clearly get far more support from him than ANY Republican. I will never understand how any gay person can support any Republican who uses his or her religious viewpoint to deny equal rights to the LGBT community – but that’s just me.

Mario
December 21st, 2011 | LINK

I think Newt answered the question fine. I think Arnold just wouldn’t give up until he got the soundbite he was fishing for. I expect that kind of i questioning by Fox News [sic], but thought our team was more professional.

I don’t agree with Newt, but the man answered the question the first time.

Mark F.
December 21st, 2011 | LINK

Timothy:

Thanks for pointing out that Obama is not fully full aboard on the marriage equality issue, although he seems to be moving towards that position.

I’m voting for Ron Paul despite his stance against gay marriage. (Johnson has all but dropped out of the race, hasn’t he?) Mr. Paul at least supports leaving the marriage issue to the states. Plus he voted for repeal of DADT. And I strongly agreee with most of his libertarian themed platform.

I’ll have to agree to disagree with you on Obama’s (foolish, disasterous, murderous and expensive) foreign policy.

Ray Harwick
December 21st, 2011 | LINK

On a Romney sort of scale, I think a political ad isolating Gingrich saying, “You should vote for Obama” would be the kind of thing Romney would want to plaster all over the airwaves with his other fake quotation he attributed to President Obama.

What haunts me about this exchange is that mild implication that gays are one-issue voters. I remember being stunned and stung by that view when President George HW Bush delivered it in reaction to a reporter’s question years ago.

Given that Newt Gingrich has signed the NOM pledge to seek a constitutional amendment barring same-sex marriage that would, in effect, nullify his very own sister’s marriage, it is that kind of disturbing thinking that makes it impossible for me to trust his views on *any* subject. And that’s an aside from the fanatical Gingrich idea that he makes judges, by threat of arrest, explain their position on any ruling he disliked. The irony that view evokes in light of the fact that a court’s ruling is, in fact, their explanation simply makes Gingrich look certifiable insane.

Priya Lynn
December 21st, 2011 | LINK

Timothy said “And while marriage equality is not necessarily the most important issue (if it were, our community would be re-registering Republican to vote for either Fred Karger or Gary Johnson,”.

No, our community wouldn’t be doing that. Marriage equality is the most important issue for most but precious few are gong to re-register for Republicans that don’t have the remotest chance of winning.

JohnAGJ
December 21st, 2011 | LINK

Nicely done, Timothy. Kudos.

David Roberts
December 21st, 2011 | LINK

Seems to be much ado about nothing, really. At the very least, we are splitting hairs. Putting aside his megalomania, Gingrich is toxic to gay rights in general. And regardless of Obama’s admittedly evolving position on marriage, he has done more to advance gay rights and therefore marriage equality than any president before him.

I have no doubt that his next term would continue to do so, more so than the aforementioned GOP candidates even with their stated positions affirming marriage equality. There is simply no way a republican president can get past the baggage of that crippled party to do anything positive for gay rights — not in this generation.

The reporter may have pushed a bit, but no more than is expected. I’m just not certain where all this animus is coming from, the summary of what was said seems pretty close to me. Even if you accept that it wasn’t, what is the point? If you get this ticked off about spin in media, your life is going to be rather hectic with all your responses, lol.

BTW, after 30 years as a registered Republican, I am now a registered Democrat. The party left me, I just made it official. So yes, I’ll be voting for Obama in 2012. To be honest, even if I was still in the GOP, after witnessing the actions of that side of the aisle this past couple of years, I would be unable to vote in the red.

Timothy Kincaid
December 21st, 2011 | LINK

Billy Bradford,

Every single Republican candidate has publicly stated that they do not support full federal equality for gay people, because that’s what marriage equality is a part of.

You are mistaken. Both Fred Karger and Gary Johnson have stated that they DO support full federal equality for gay people.

Karger is a bit player and is in it to make a point. But Johnson, the former governor of New Mexico, is included in all of the Republican debates.

However, it would be truthful to say that “Every single Democratic candidate has publicly stated that they do not support full federal equality for gay people, because that’s what marriage equality is a part of.” All one of them. But we do have reasons to hope that will change before the election. (I do have a day dream of Johnson suddenly surging in the polls leaving Obama to explain why Johnson’s positions are more pro-gay. It would not only lead to a more rapid “evolution”, but it would be good for our nation.)

Timothy Kincaid
December 21st, 2011 | LINK

Marriage equality is the most important issue for most but precious few are gong to re-register for Republicans that don’t have the remotest chance of winning.

Yes, precisely. Because a candidate’s chances to win are part of the considerations. As are other positions.

Were, by some miracle, Johnson to become the Republican candidate and Obama not complete his evolution, there are those for whom marriage equality is very important but who would be willing to accept Obama’s almost kinda sorta hey-I’m-not-defending-DOMA support as more than enough to choose him over Johnson’s full support based on other issues.

Ray Harwick
December 21st, 2011 | LINK

Timothy, I think I’ve watched all of the Republican debates and I don’t think Gov. Johnson was in any of them. At least, not on television.

CPT_Doom
December 21st, 2011 | LINK

For the record, Johnson is no longer in the GOP race. He is now running as a Libertarian. As for what Newt did or did not say, who cares? Anyone who wants to elevate a home-wrecker like Callista (his current, but by no means necessarily future, sex partner) to the role of First Lady cannot have any integrity when it comes to issues of morality.

Timothy Kincaid
December 21st, 2011 | LINK

Ray,

You may be right. I think I got him confused with Huntsman who supports civil unions and wants the states to each decide. (they kinda look alike to me) Johnson has only been included in two debates.

CPT_Doom, thanks for the update.

So it looks like the Libertarians may have – for the first time in my recollection – a candidate that actually is libertarian in ideals and not a raving loon. This could actually be fun.

BobN
December 21st, 2011 | LINK

Didn’t Huntsman just announce support for DOMA?

Anyway, it’s a shame that the prof fell for Newtie’s trick. The question wasn’t about SSM. The gay community’s “engagement” with the candidates isn’t about SSM. It’s about a whole heck of a lot of other issues.

Ray Harwick
December 21st, 2011 | LINK

Timothy,

Yes. Huntsman has been in *almost* all of the debates and he’s sort of like Johnson in that he doesn’t get taken seriously but most Republicans. I think he missed the one in Nevada. I can’t even remember which one he missed. He deliberately skipped the one in Iowa where they all sat around a Thanksgiving table and congratulated each other for the anti-gay positions (except for Ron Paul who just doesn’t seem to care if anyone at all ever marries).

Ryan
December 21st, 2011 | LINK

I actually kind of suspected Gingrich wouldn’t be so politically unsavy, but I didn’t realize there would be video. Shame on that man for lying. Although it’s also pretty disingenuous for Gingrich to pretend that he has nothing against gays except gay marriage. I personally base my vote on many issues. I realize Obama is unlikely to “evolve” on gay marriage until after his (hopefully) second term, but I’m voting for him anyway because the GOP candidates are far too extreme on nearly every issue.

Jim Burroway
December 21st, 2011 | LINK

Good catch Timothy. I wish I had seen that video. What really makes this whole thing so stupid is that Gingrich’s animosity toward gay people is already very obvious. It’s not like anyone has to make anything up.

Erin
December 21st, 2011 | LINK

I’m just tired in general of the media focusing over and over again on what Bachmann, Frothy, and this serial adulterer have to say about gays. We know they don’t like us. We don’t need to hear it over and over and over again. Never have I believed less in the two-party system than I do right now. The GOP has put a bunch of unelectable clowns into their primary. Obama has this in the bag. They’re not even trying. And no, I’m not saying Liberals or Democrates secretly have control of everything. They clearly don’t. Banks and big business control everything. Period. End of story. That being said, I still want my right to marriage and a woman’s right to choose and for stem cells to be researched. Seems like the social issues are all that’s left for the politicians to argue over. The financial industry and corporations and military industrial complex will always get what they want in terms of those policies. So yeah, in picking a candidate, these issues are most important to me. I really feel it’s one of few things left we actually have a say in.

Donny D.
December 22nd, 2011 | LINK

BobN wrote,

Anyway, it’s a shame that the prof fell for Newtie’s trick. The question wasn’t about SSM. The gay community’s “engagement” with the candidates isn’t about SSM. It’s about a whole heck of a lot of other issues.

BobN, thanks for bringing this up. Gingrich gives indication he will be bad on a whole range of LGBT rights issues. Clearly he doesn’t want to talk about other current LGBT rights issues on which voters overall strongly favor the pro-LGBT rights side.

Here’s something else from the transcript that gave me pause:

Arnold: How do we engage if you’re elected? Then what? What does that mean?

Gingrich: Then you engage on every topic except that.

I take that to mean, “Don’t bother to lobby or otherwise contact my future presidential administration on the issue of marriage equality.” (I’m assuming the above quote isn’t a verbal misstep that misportrayed Gingrich’s views.)

elaygee
December 22nd, 2011 | LINK

Let’s see, he would criminalize Gay sex, reinstate DADT and use force to arrest any judges that declared anything he doesn’t like.

He DID say vote for Obama if you have any principles or regard for the Constitution, not just marriage equality.

StraightGrandmother
December 22nd, 2011 | LINK

Duuno Timothy, this is a quote from the article where you object to the headline, “I asked him if he’s elected, how does he plan to engage gay Americans. How are we to support him? And he told me to support Obama.”

This was the takeaway by Scott Arnold, the man who is gay and was probing Gingrich. He says, “he told me to support Obama”so that is the headline. I don’t think in this context the headline is misleading. You have to read the full story to get the details but the man going toe to toe with Gingrich summed it up exactly like the headline states.

Let’s save our condemnation for more flagrantly deceptive rhetoric.

Ben In Oakland
December 22nd, 2011 | LINK

I have a belief.

If you’re not intelligent enough to understand the basic nature of anti-gay bigotry, compassionate enough to oppose the harm that being anti-gay does to both gay people and straight people, aware enough of the stupidity of taking whole segments of the population and telling them “you’re not good enough”…

then you’re just not smart enough, compassionate enough, or aware enough to be president of this country.

If that makes me a single issue voter, then I suppose that is what I am.

A good portion of the total messy decline of this country for the last 7 years can be laid at the feet of the Republican party and george bush, all because of the anti-gay campaign engineered by arch-homo Ken “Am I Redeemed Yet” Mehlman. you can also blame the democrats for having no spines worth a back brace.

Reed Boyer
December 22nd, 2011 | LINK

Timothy:

I am not a registered Republican; nor do I copulate with sheep, conduct human sacrifices at the dark of the moon, or eat my progeny. I regard LCR and GOProud members (sorry, ladies and gentlemen all) with the same sick fascination some people have for car wrecks.

I’m with Ben on this one, if we have to use Gingrich’s BS “single issue voter” definition.

I care about other “issues” including ENDA and SNDA nationally, as well asnd the interminable process of Prop 8 and the push-back against the FAIR Act here in California. DOMA, however, is THE topic that seems to have engaged the national dialogue.

I don’t think any of us were played for fools, except in having spent so much time dancing about over this particular reductionist lede. Nor do I think you are a fool – but you do have a talent for contrarian nit-picking and provocative writing that draws me (and perhaps others) to expend more time and energy on your commentaries than I/we realize (with the clarity of hindsight) is in any manner more productive than slamming my head into my desk-top, repeatedly. That being the case, the more fool me.

Oh, how I wish I could quit you, but you are the flame to my moth.

Timothy Kincaid
December 22nd, 2011 | LINK

Reed,

You are too smart and too capable to allow your thinking to be controlled by presumptions, stereotypes, and animus. When you finally let it go – and I do think you will – you will be much happier. It is definitely more difficult and challenging to think with nuance, to measure each situation based on the facts rather than party registration, but you are up to it.

alanmt
December 22nd, 2011 | LINK

I will stop being a single issue voter when I am treated equally under the law. When my marriage is recognized. This has to take precedence over any other political or governmental issue that does not put at stake our very nation. Hyperbole of political partisans aside, there are no such issues, although we may be approaching one with respect to the national debt.

I have lived long enough to recognize that, although I disagree with its emphasis on charity and protection over liberty, the Democratic party is the one most likely to achieve equality for me, and that any missteps of Democratic governance in enactments of law or policy in the interim will not wreck the Republic and can be altered or reversed as necessary by future .

Maybe I will rejoin the Republican party when this culture war/Christian Dominionist emphasis is abandoned and the party returns to a more classicly liberal, enlightened form of conservatism.

Gregory Peterson
December 22nd, 2011 | LINK

Last news in New Mexico that I heard is that Johnson is going to continue running, but on a Libertarian ticket.

As I think that libertarianism is a pathetic, unwise, if not extremist Ayn Randian fantasy mostly for young middle class males who feel entitled just because…

As governor, Johnson was annoyingly smug, autocratic and undiplomatic. He also habitually looks like a deer caught in the headlights, for some reason. Shallow of me to write that last remark, I know, but…a President just shouldn’t look like that.

So, I think not, at least for President. If I ever want someone to construct a skyscraper, however…we’ll talk.

I am grateful, however, that he has evolved on marriage equality. Would that more politicians follow him on that.

DN
December 22nd, 2011 | LINK

There are two questions here:

1) what will you (candidate Gingrich) do to engage gay *voters* from now until election day?

and

2) what will you (potential president Gingrich) do to engage gay people as president?

The answer he gave is valid for question 1, but we are still owed an answer for the much more important question 2.

Eric in Oakland
December 23rd, 2011 | LINK

“And it turns out that the interchange between Scott Arnold and Newt Gingrich is significantly different than it is being reported.”

While I agree that it is DIFFERENT,I think it is largely a matter of opinion whether the difference is SIGNIFICANT. In my mind it is not.

“Well if that’s most important to you, then you should be for Obama” quite clearly means that Gingrich does not expect people who prioritize gay rights to vote for him and that he will not make any attempt to engage people for whom it is an important issue. Is it then really SIGNIFICANTLY different to say he doesn’t “want gay votes” as opposed to “care about gay votes” or “expect gay votes”?

It seems as if we are splitting hairs with this and basically indulging in sophistry. As STRAIGHTGRANDMOTHER commented above, “Let’s save our condemnation for more flagrantly deceptive rhetoric.”

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