Newt Gingrich was an enthusiastic supporter of President Ronald Reagan and his policies and was a frequent White House visitor, a high-level Reagan official asserted, refuting charges leveled against the former speaker of the House by Mitt Romney's campaign.
The Gingrich campaign put together a conference call with reporters with Reagan National Security Advisor Bud McFarlane and Reagan biographer Craig Shirley to “clarify the truth about Speaker Gingrich’s relationship with — and support for — President Ronald Reagan.”
McFarlane noted that in his days at the Reagan White House he spent a great deal of time briefing members of Congress and it was routine to see Gingrich at the White House.
“Whether it was an appropriation measure or authorization bills or on matters of policy the president could always count on Congressman Gingrich to be a very enthusiastic supporter,” he said. “Whether it was for the defense budget itself and rebuilding the foundation of our deterrent at a time when it had languished in the Carter years ... it was a reliable voice in Congressman Gingrich … to be supportive of President Reagan’s policies and it was quite enthusiastic on the part of Congressman Gingrich.”
Craig Shirley, the author of two books on Reagan and a soon-to-be-published book on Gingrich, said his research found Gingrich to be a “reliable Reaganite who was seen favorably … by Reagan and the Reagan White House.
“And it’s really in my mind kind of ridiculous that Mitt Romney or others would make some kind of charge that Gingrich wasn’t a Reaganite,” he said. “He was always a supporter of the Reagan initiatives all through those years and that’s what I’ve discovered in the course of my work on the Reagan books and the Gingrich book.”
Part of the Romney attacks on Gingrich is the claim that in Reagan’s diaries, Gingrich is only mentioned once. McFarlane, however, offered an explanation.
“It is true and seldom noticed that when a member of Congress comes down and brings a colleague it is always called, in this case, Jack Kemp’s meeting and President Reagan in his diary would habitually note he had a meeting with Jack Kemp … or whomever it might have been,” he said.
“The fact that there were colleagues there at the same time … was not trivial. It may have been a Jack Kemp meeting but it was a joint effort and quite enthusiastic follow-up from Newt Gingrich from those meetings. But they were routine, go back to the record and see how many times Jack Kemp is in there and it was probably a Jack Kemp-Gingrich meeting.”
Shirley noted that Jack Kemp is appears in the Reagan diaries 14 times.
When asked what Reagan might think of the battle between Gingrich and Romney, Shirley said he thought Reagan would be “flattered that there would be a fight over his legacy.”
“No one goes around calling themselves a Gerald Ford Republican or a Richard Nixon Republican but everybody tries to call themselves a Reagan Republican or even a Goldwater Republican and that speaks to their lasting legacy,” he said.
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