Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich tells Newsmax that President Obama is totally focused on his re-election campaign and is “not doing the job of president.”
The Georgia Republican and former presidential candidate also says Obama sent “exactly the wrong signal” in his U.N. address on Tuesday when he apologized for an anti-Islam video instead of defending free speech.
And he insists GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney is not being aggressive enough in countering attack ads from Obama supporters.
Gingrich was first elected to the House in 1978 and served as speaker from 1995 to 1999 before announcing his retirement. He dropped out of the race for the GOP presidential nomination in May and endorsed Romney.
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President Obama’s speech at the U.N. General Assembly referred to “a crude and disgusting video [that] sparked outrage throughout the Muslim world,” and said “America will never retreat from the world.”
In an exclusive interview with Newsmax.TV on Tuesday, Gingrich offers his reaction to the speech: “First of all, it’s unfortunate that the president, instead of standing up for free speech, ends up once again apologizing for what was an excuse [to attack American interests].
“I mean, you’ll notice that thousands of people have been killed in Syria but there have been no riots about insults and no problems around the entire region about the fact that people are getting killed in Syria. You’ll notice that mosques have been bombed in Syria but there’s been no sense of outrage. So a movie made by a private citizen, seen by virtually no one, suddenly becomes something the president of the United States wants to talk about at the United Nations.
“He sent exactly the wrong signal. We’re not going to censor Americans on behalf of radical Islam and we need to say, calmly and comfortably, ‘If you’re going to be part of the modern world, that involves dissent.’
“He should have condemned the Iranians for increasing the bounty for Salman Rushdie’s killing to $3.3 million and point out that it’s barbaric to have a government seeking to kill a writer.”
President Obama did not schedule bilateral meetings with foreign leaders while in New York and the White House also said his schedule did not allow time for a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
That doesn’t surprise Gingrich because “this is the campaigner in chief, not the commander in chief. His attitude is if he gets re-elected, he’ll still be president and who cares what you think. And if he doesn’t get re-elected, he won’t be president and who cares what you think. I really think that’s his attitude and he’s totally focused on the campaign, not on doing his job.
“The reports that he’s taking only 38 or 39 percent of his national security briefings tell you a lot. This is somebody who was explicitly wrong about the killings in Benghazi of the American ambassador and three other Americans, consistently referred back to the anti-Muslim movie when, in fact, everybody had agreed by then that this was a terrorist action that had nothing to do with any movie.
“So this is a president who is narrowly focused on his own re-election for his own purposes. He’s not doing the job of president and it’s part of why every thinking person ought to be opposed to his re-election.
Gingrich recently traveled to Missouri to raise money for GOP senate candidate Todd Akin, while some Republicans backed off of their support for Akin following his controversial comments about abortion.
Asked why he is sticking with Akin, Gingrich responds: “First of all, Akin admitted almost immediately he’d made a mistake. He apologized for it.
“The president describes the killing of four Americans a bump in the road and the elite media doesn’t seem to want to talk about it. The vice president makes so many mistakes that if we were going to apply the Akin rule to Joe Biden, he wouldn’t be allowed to serve as vice president.
“But somehow, if you’re a pro-life, conservative, tea party grassroots Republican, we have a much tougher standard for you. And when the Republican establishment came out against him so aggressively, I thought somebody in the Republican Party ought to stand up for the right of the people of Missouri to pick their own nominee.
“The Missouri Farm Bureau met again and reaffirmed with a 98 percent vote their support for Akin. The fact is that he is the nominee, he has a very realistic chance of winning that race, and if you want to stop Harry Reid from being Senate majority leader, you should be helping Todd Akin. So that’s why I want him.
“After 71 percent of the people of Missouri voted ‘No’ on Obamacare, [Democratic incumbent Sen. Claire McCaskill] voted ‘Yes.’ So she’s very vulnerable just on Obamacare alone. She has an F on National Rifle Association rating; Akin has an A. She has an F on the right to life rating; Akin has an A. She’s consistently voted for bigger spending and bigger deficits; Akin is a pro-balanced budget fiscal conservative. So there’s really a pretty broad choice there.
“And by the way, there are two recent surveys in Missouri that show Akin ahead.”
Another recent poll had McCaskill up by 6 percentage points, and polls in some other crucial Senate races, including a Fox News survey, show the Democratic candidates leading in Virginia, Ohio, and Florida. To better their chances of winning these races and gaining control of the Senate, Gingrich advises, Republicans “need an issue-oriented campaign, and I would start with American energy independence as the first big issue.
“We did a series of polls with [Republican pollster] Kellyanne Conway, which we’ve released, showing that 86 percent of the country favors an American independence project. That’s a big enough margin to build a pretty good campaign around.
“American energy independence creates jobs in the energy industry, creates jobs in manufacturing, and it helps us to balance the payments and strengthens the dollar. It provides royalties and taxes for the government and helps with a balanced budget. And it helps with national security by weaning us off reliance on the Persian Gulf and the Middle East. So that’s an issue that Romney and others ought to be talking about every single day.”
The national tracking polls show the presidential race as a dead heat, but President Obama he now leads in every swing state. Gov. Romney says it’s because of the Obama campaign’s unfair attack ads. Gingrich was asked if the Romney campaign is being aggressive enough countering these attacks.
“No. If you’re a conservative candidate, you have to get up every morning understanding that the news media is the active ally of your opponent and you have to realize you’re in the fight of your life and you’ve got to start every morning and you’ve got to fight all day,” he responds.
“We clearly have the potential to win this race decisively, but it can’t be won by being slow and cautious. You can’t fight to avoid losing. You’ve got to fight to win. Romney’s going to have to be more aggressive and more direct, and when Obama used the phrase, ‘a bump in the road’ to describe the Middle East at a time when the American ambassador and three other Americans had been killed, he was very open to an aggressive counterattack. I was disappointed that we did not get a more thorough and more decisive response out of Romney.”
The upcoming presidential debates will be crucial for Romney. Gingrich, who has debated Romney, discusses the candidate’s abilities as a debater.
“In Florida, frankly, he did very, very well when it mattered the most. I would say that I probably won 15 debates but he won the two that mattered, and those are the two in Florida. He did it by being well prepared, by being aggressive, by leaning forward and making his points and not backing down, and if he is as aggressive and as prepared with Obama, he will do very, very well in the debates.
“I just wrote my newsletter which comes out tomorrow. It talks about the debates since 1960 and what’s made them decisive, and there are things that he can do. The most important thing is to be comfortable with who you are. People tune in to find out if you’re somebody they can be comfortable with as president.”
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