The video: On NBC's Meet the Press on Sunday, newly minted GOP presidential candidate Newt Gingrich raised eyebrows — and hackles — in Republican circles by dismissing Rep. Paul Ryan's (R-Wisc.) plan to shift Medicare to a voucher system as too "radical," adding "I don't think right-wing social engineering is any more desirable than left-wing social engineering." (View the video below.) Raising eyebrows even higher, he backed a "variation of the individual mandate" — a centerpiece of President Obama's health care overhaul that conservatives unanimously despise — because "all of us have a responsibility to help pay for health care." Team Gingrich is already trying to walk back the former speaker's comments.
The reaction: The performance was enough to "leave some wondering which party’s nomination he is running for," says Andrew Stiles at National Review. "I'm mystified," says Allahpundit at Hot Air. Newt was a long shot for the GOP nomination even before he "kneecapped" the party's effort at message unity, but now? Maybe he thinks his "Mediscaring" will win the senior vote, or that "since he’s not going to win with support from the GOP's right, why not pander to its left?" This is just a classic flip-flop, says Jay Newton-Small at TIME. Mere weeks ago, Newt was for Ryan's Medicare plan — which has since become increasingly unpopular. Now it's "radical." How quickly things change. Watch the clip: