Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and Illinois Democratic Rep. Bobby Rush of Illinois traded barbs Sunday on CNN's "State of the Union" about gangs and violence in America — specifically in Rush's crime-riddled district.
"Gangs have increased by 40 percent since this president was elected," Gingrich said. "There is no federal program to stop it. No one wants to have an honest conversation about it. You have a congressman whose own district is bleeding, who puts on a hoodie as a symbolic act, but he doesn’t do anything about the gangs in his own district."
Gingrich was referring to Rush's breech of decorum on the House floor following last year's shooting death of Trayvon Martin.
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"That's a charge, Newt, that is not going to hold water," Rush fired back. "I have been working relentlessly since I have been in Congress … trying to deal with this violence. I'm astounded and ashamed about this violence."
Gingrich asked Rush -- who in 1968 founded an Illinois chapter of the radical Black Panthers -- for support of a proposed three-day congressional swap involving the Democratic Black Caucus and House Republicans to begin "a conversation that's real" about race relations.
"There’s a national explosion as people suddenly look up and are reminded that, four-and-a-half years into this presidency, there are very deep, painful problems," Gingrich said. "The country needs to have some kind of conversation about how big the gap is between the black community and the rest of the country."
"Count me it, Newt," Rush responded. "Count me in."
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