Will 'racial politics' revive Newt's campaign?

At Monday's debate, Juan Williams pushed Gingrich about racially charged comments he has made on the campaign trail. Newt could barely believe his luck

Newt Gingrich
(Image credit: Win McNamee/Getty Images)

The video: Newt Gingrich won the biggest round of applause of Monday night's Republican presidential debate in Myrtle Beach, S.C., after a heated back-and-forth with Fox News moderator Juan Williams. (Watch the video below.) Gingrich was confronted with past comments — that blacks should demand jobs, not food stamps; that slacker inner-city kids should do janitorial work in their schools — and asked by Williams if he could see how those words would be "viewed, at a minimum, as insulting to all Americans, but particularly to black Americans?" Newt's answer: "No. I don't see that." Gingrich went on to insist that working kids would "be getting money, which is a good thing if you're poor." Williams then asked if Newt's claims that black people lack work ethic and that President Obama is "the food stamp president" are "not intended to belittle the poor and racial minorities"? As the crowd booed, Gingrich shot back: "Well, first of all, Juan, the fact is that more people have been put on food stamps by Barack Obama than any president in American history." The crowd interrupted the debate to give Newt a standing ovation.

The reaction: "I hope Juan is reporting this as an in-kind contribution to Gingrich 2012," says Allahpundit at Hot Air. Because with his inadvertent assist, Gingrich hit this answer out of the park, and just "might have turned South Carolina from a solid [Mitt] Romney lead into a nail-biter." Yes, what was Williams thinking? says Joan Walsh at Salon. Of course Gingrich got a standing ovation from this conservative Southern crowd "for smacking down Fox's leading black contributor" — on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, no less — after he dared to ask "impertinent questions about race." Williams teed up a "right-wing political trifecta" for Newt — "bashing anti-business regulations like child labor laws, public sector unions, and lazy 'urban' kids," — and Newt reminded us why South Carolina primaries always have "some of the ugliest racial politics seen anywhere." Here's the exchange:

Subscribe to The Week

Escape your echo chamber. Get the facts behind the news, plus analysis from multiple perspectives.


Sign up for The Week's Free Newsletters

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

Sign up
To continue reading this article...
Continue reading this article and get limited website access each month.
Get unlimited website access, exclusive newsletters plus much more.
Cancel or pause at any time.
Already a subscriber to The Week?
Not sure which email you used for your subscription? Contact us