In an exclusive interview with Newsmax.TV, GOP presidential contender Newt Gingrich blasted President Barack Obama’s policy reversal on coverage of birth control and the morning-after pill saying the new policy “may actually be worse” than the rules that caused the controversy in the first place.
Liberal Catholics have sided with conservatives in opposing the Obama administration’s plan to require faith-based organizations to offer insurance policies that cover procedures the Catholic church finds morally unacceptable. So on Friday the president announced he would instead require all insurance companies to cover the pills and procedures, which include sterilization, free-of-charge and without co-pays.
“I think average Americans deeply resent the Obama administration trying to impose rules on religious institutions,” said Gingrich.
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Many Catholic leaders reacted negatively to Obama’s revised policy. They pointed out that there are several Catholic insurance firms and self-insured Catholic organizations that would still be affected.
Throughout the controversy over the HHS mandate, which is part of the process of determining what procedures must be covered under the president’s healthcare reforms, pastors and ministers across the political spectrum have come to Catholics’ defense.
They frame the issue as one of religious liberty and the First Amendment, rather than a debate about what does or does not constitute abortion.
Gingrich told Newsmax on Friday that he doubts whether the new policy represents a significant concession.
“It’s a clever maneuver which may actually be worse, not better,” said Gingrich, who added he intends to carefully explore the details of the new proposal. “A number of leading Catholic intellectuals believe this is worse. It’s certainly worse as a matter of conscience.”
Gingrich said, “I don’t believe President Obama cares anything about what Catholics think,” pointing out that as an Illinois state senator Obama opposed a bill that would have banned partial-birth abortion.
“He has been relentlessly hostile to traditional religions,” charged Gingrich, who is a convert to Catholicism. “I think that his administration doesn’t share any of the values, and they proved that.
“They might temporarily maneuver for the purpose of getting through an election, but I think everybody ought to look at that and say to yourself, ‘What do you think he’ll do the week after the election?’” he added.
Other highlights from the exclusive Gingrich interview conducted at CPAC, an event Gingrich said was created to “take on the Republican establishment”:
• Gingrich defined the political establishment as “people who are winning the insider game. They have basically a rigged deck, and as far as they are concerned basically life is fine.” Those individuals aren’t interested in reforming fundamental institutions in society because “They’re pretty happy managing the decay, because they’re the ones who win,” he said.
• He told Newsmax former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney “had a really bad week” after losing to former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum in Minnesota, Colorado, and Missouri. “The establishment media kept telling us he was going to be inevitable,” said Gingrich. “And yet after all the money he’s spent, all the attack ads he’s run, he ran out of gas. And I think it will be interesting to see now as we go to the next round. If he can’t come up with something positive, I’m not sure pure negativity carries you very far. So people will then get to choose. In some ways, this is a new race.”
• He made a strong defense of his political resume, arguing he’s the only candidate presenting big enough ideas to really make a difference. He said his American Conservative Union voting record is “far higher” than Santorum’s, and dismissed Romney as “clearly just a moderate.” But he said the real question is whether candidates’ ideas are bold enough to renew the nation economically and politically. “I think my track record is pretty good at doing that,” he said.
• He was sharply critical of the administration’s response to the imprisonment of 16 Americans in Egypt, which Gingrich sees as an effort by the former military allies of deposed Egyptian leader Hosni Mubarak to hold onto power by stirring up nationalistic sentiments.
“The Obama administration reminds me of Jimmy Carter in his weakness and in his self-deception,” Gingrich charged, adding: “And I think the idea that we’re going to be impotent in the face of this dictatorship is crazy. So I would hope that the administration would have the courage to stand up to them and demand that they release the Americans.
• He said his budget proposals would be radically different than Obama’s, modernizing federal bureaucracies to save $500 billion a year. Also, he said he would cut out “between $60 and $110 billion a year that currently goes to crooks because the federal government is so inefficient and incompetent.”
• He added the general election will be a choice the ideas and values determine “that have made us the freest country in history -- and a radical who believes in a very different system, and who will move us to a Washington-dominated, bureaucratically administered, politician-defined future that bears no resemblance to the America that we were born into. This is the most important election of our lifetime.”
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