There are many distinctions between Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich, but a key one is tone. To Romney skeptics, many of the former governor’s statements appear to have the subtext “Please like me.” Newt Gingrich’s subtext often seems like “I don’t care if you like me.”
And sometimes the subtext isn’t quite so subtle:
Juan Williams: Speaker Gingrich, you recently said black Americans should demand jobs, not food stamps. You also say poor kids lack a strong work ethic and proposed having them work as janitors in their schools. Can’t you see that this is viewed as at a minimum as insulting to all Americans but particularly to black Americans?
Newt Gingrich: No, I don’t see that.
The exchange continues:
Williams: Speaker Gingrich, the suggestion you made was about a lack of work ethic, and I’ve got to tell you that my e-mail account and twitter account has been inundated with people of all races who are asking if your comments are not intended to belittle the poor and racial minorities. We saw some of this reaction during your visit to a black church in South Carolina. You saw some of this during your visit to a black church in South Carolina where a woman asked you why you refer to President Obama as “the food stamp president.” It sounds as if you’re seeking to belittle people.
Gingrich: Well, first of all, Juan . . .
The fact is that more people have been put on food stamps by Barack Obama than any president in American history. Now, I know among the politically correct you are not supposed to use facts that are uncomfortable.
I’ve talked in the past about Newt’s power of confidence in these debates. Almost every Gingrich response to every question carries the subtext,“The evidence to support the wisdom and benefits of my idea is so overwhelming and irrefutable that I can scarcely believe that we need to have this discussion, but I will lay it out for you slowly and clearly so that even the dullest-witted person within earshot can grasp the futility and madness of any other course.”