Gingrich's NAACP, Food Stamp Remarks Stir Controversy

ABC News

Manchester, N.H.- The blogosphere piled up with headlines Thursday over a part of Newt Gingrich's campaign speech involving food stamps and the NAACP, which left the Gingrich campaign scrambling in defense to put Gingrich's comments in context.

"And so I'm prepared if the NAACP invites me, I'll go to their convention and talk about why the African American community should demand paychecks and not be satisfied with food stamps," Gingrich said earlier today in Plymouth, N.H.

After a few tweets about Gingrich's comments surfaced online, several blogs were written focusing on Gingrich's comments. Some headlines included "Gingrich Singles Out Blacks in Food Stamp Remark," "Newt: Informs African Americans They Should Not Want Food Stamps," and "Gingrich to Blacks: Demand Jobs Not Food Stamps."

The Internet chatter ensued as writers discussed Gingrich's comments on race, saying he "called out the African American community."

Gingrich lead welfare reform as Speaker of the House in the early 90's and routinely speaks on improving poverty in America as a part of his "stump" speech. Though his comments are not always politically-correct or well received by some groups, Gingrich doesn't hold back in talking about his desire to help ethnic communities.

A portion of Gingrich's usual speech given to crowds includes a line in which Gingrich says more people are on food stamps under President Obama than with any other president. ABC News fact checked Gingrich's food stamp claims earlier this month, confirming that Americans on food stamps is at a record high, but mostly attributed to a weak economy.

"The fact is if I become your nominee we will make the key test very simple - food stamps versus paychecks. Obama is the best food stamp president in American history. More people are on food stamps today because of Obama's policies than ever in history," Gingrich said. "I would like to be the best paycheck president in American history."

Gingrich stirred controversy last month over his comments about poor children having no work habits or people around them to teach them how to work. Gingrich offered the solution that some school janitors should be fired and children should work part time within their school for money and to develop "pride in their community."

The Gingrich campaign immediately responded to the press over Gingrich's comments by sending out an email that said Gingrich's NAACP comments were an effort to reach out to the African American community. The Gingrich campaign pointed to Gingrich's book Real Change, in which Gingrich was critical of President Bush's "failure to address the NAACP." Gingrich said it was a "clear signal to the African American community that Republicans did not see them as worthy of engagement in dialogue."

Gingrich also chastised the 2008 Republican presidential candidates, in an appearance on Good Morning America, for skipping out on a forum hosted by Travis Smiley, which focused on the issues of black voters. Mike Huckabee was the only candidate to agree.

Gingrich said earlier this week that he was prepared to go into any ethnic community that would listen to his ideas.

"There's no neighborhood I know of in America where if you went around and asked people, 'Would you rather your children had food stamps or paychecks?" Gingrich said. "You would end up with a majority saying they'd rather have a paycheck."

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