Gingrich dares Cuomo to raise taxes, dares Pelosi to raise ethics, and clarifies his 'janitorial' prescription
4:33 pm Dec. 5, 20111
On Monday afternoon, after a fund-raiser at the Union League Club, Newt Gingrich held court for a few dozen reporters in an upstairs library.
Gingrich, who has risen suddenly in the polls in the last few weeks, has made a show of abiding by Ronald Reagan's Eleventh Commandment, refusing to attack his rivals in the debates, and even suggesting he would avoid criticizing his chief rival for the nomination, Mitt Romney. But, with the race increasingly looking like a two-man contest and reporters nudging him about their differences, it's proven a slightly difficult thing to do.
Asked about the label of "career politician," which Romney has tried to stick on the former speaker in recent weeks, with decreasing subtlety, Gingrich attempted to turn the notion around.
"I don't know that you ought to count running for the Senate in 1994, running for governor, then running for president for six years," Gingrich said. "I don't know whether that makes him a career politician or not. I'll let you decide.
"It's fair to say I've been a successful candidate a number of times. It's also fair to say that as a citizen I've been very proud of the fact I started working, as a citizen, at 15 years of age, because I think that citizenship is very important. And I would hope that Governor Romney would think of himself as a citizen."
The age at which people began working was something of a theme for the afternoon event, with Gingrich, in full professor mode, asking how many of the assembled reporters had begun some form of work by age ten (a few hands went up), and later, explaining how his spokesman, R.C. Hammond, had learned a lot working on computers at his school.
Gingrich has made it a talking point that kids these days, particularly in poorer neighborhoods, aren't sufficiently imbued with the ethics of hard work.
"Take some of those kids who are in danger of dropping out. What if they were the assistant clerk in the front office? What if they helped in the kitchen?" he asked.
He also tried to clarify a prior suggestion about them doing janitorial work by saying he wasn't talking about "heavy, dangerous janitorial work."
"There are a number of things done to clean buildings that are not heavy or dangerous," he said, adding that it would give them a little extra money in their pockets."This is called America. It's how people rise in America. They learn to work."
Gingrich also responded, briefly, to a question about Governor Andrew Cuomo's potential changes to the tax code, which could raise the rate paid by the state's highest earners.
"If I were the Florida Chamber of Commerce, I would run ads, encourage him to do it," he said.
Asked about Nancy Pelosi's comments that she would be pleased to see him run, and might even disclose some of what she learned about him during her time on the Ethics Committee, Gingrich called it an "early Christmas gift."
"That is a fundamental violation of the rules of the House and I would hope that members would immediately file charges against her the second she does it. I think it tells you how capriciously political that committee was when she was on it. I think it tells you how tainted the outcome was that she was on it. And I think that what she said to you today should explain a great deal about what happened in the ethics process when Nancy Pelosi was at the heart of it, and is now prepared to totally abuse the House process.
"So I regard as a useful education for the American people to see what a tainted political ethics operation Nancy Pelosi was engaged in. And I would hope the House would immediately condemn her if she uses any material that was gathered while she was on the Ethics Committee."
"But as you know, corrections often appear on page 17," he said.