Newt Gingrich Seeks Boost From Racially Charged Exchange - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Newt Gingrich Seeks Boost From Racially Charged Exchange

HUFFINGTONPOST.COM - It was telling that as soon as the Republican presidential debate ended here Monday night, Newt Gingrich made a beeline to talk to reporters.

Gingrich, the recently embattled, always controversial and irascible former speaker of the House from Georgia, had just watched a massive crowd inside the convention center respond to him with a passionate standing ovation after his confrontation with one of the debate's moderators.

The exchange lit a fire underneath the crowd, and in so doing seemed to increase his chances of gathering momentum ahead of Saturday's primary in South Carolina.

"It's the only time I've ever seen a standing ovation, certainly in the debates I've been involved," Gingrich told reporters after the debate in an area set aside for the press. "There was a spontaneous sense that somebody finally had the courage to just tell the truth about how we've got to go about helping people, and the fact that I was very clear."

He was referring to his unapologetic and provocative dispute with debate moderator Juan Williams, after Williams confronted him over his comments earlier this winter that poor children in low-income neighborhoods should be given janitorial work in local schools.

"Can't you see that this is viewed at a minimum as insulting to all Americans, but particularly to black Americans?" asked Williams.

Gingrich replied flatly: "No, I don't see that." The crowd erupted approvingly.

Gingrich talked about his daughter "doing janitorial work at 13," and another young man who started a doughnut company at age 11. He said that New York City could "hire 30-some kids to work in the school for the price of one janitor, and those 30 kids would be a lot less likely to drop out."

"They'd be getting money, which is a good thing if you're poor. Only the elites despise earning money," Gingrich said, as the audience roared its approval.

Williams came back at Gingrich, asking the former speaker if his comments had been "intended to belittle the poor and racial minorities." The crowd, most of it white, booed Williams loudly. click here to read the full story

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