Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich apologized in a telephone call to House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., on Tuesday afternoon for his remarks on “Meet the Press,” Politico reports.
“Newt apologized,” said Rick Tyler, his press secretary and longtime aide. “The call went very well.”
Gingrich had described Ryan’s plan to reform Medicare – a plan touted by the majority of House Republicans – as “right-wing social engineering.” With his campaign suddenly in free fall, Gingrich has shifted into fervent damage control following a furious conservative reaction to his comments — and is even expressing a rare bit of contrition.
Gingrich held two conference calls with tea party leaders scattered throughout the nation – one on short notice Monday night, and another Tuesday morning, according to Politico.
Aides said Gingrich started each of the half-hour calls by explaining what he meant on “Meet the Press,” and acknowledging that he could have expressed it better. “We’ve tried to correct the record and admit it could have been done better,” Tyler said. “We move on.”
After exchanging conciliatory emails with Ryan, Gingrich had the phone conversation from Minneapolis, where he was campaigning before the Minnesota Family Council.
Ryan had said on Laura Ingraham’s radio show on Monday, “With allies like that, who needs the left?”
On Tuesday, after the two tea-party calls, Gingrich held a third call with conservative bloggers.
Gingrich believes that whatever the merits of the Ryan plan, the introduction has been politically awkward.
“Medicare is going to be part of the 2012 campaign, one way or another, and Newt would like to help the Republicans design a winning plan that the country will support,” Tyler continued. “If you try to impose it on the country, you’ll pay a huge political price, you’ll be out of power and you won’t get it done.”
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