CBS's Rose Throws Race Card at Gingrich Over Food Stamp Remark

On Tuesday's CBS This Morning, Charlie Rose hinted Newt Gingrich should apologize for a supposedly racially-tinged comment he recently made: "I want to give you an opportunity, because the point was made...about it's better for black Americans to seek a job than it is to seek food stamps, and many people stepped forward to say, isn't that simply true for all Americans who are desperately looking for jobs?"

Rose ended his interview of the former House Speaker with the controversy over a remark the presidential candidate made on January 5 during a campaign stop in Plymouth, New Hampshire: "I'm prepared if the NAACP invites me, I'll go to their convention and talk about why the African American community should demand paychecks and not be satisfied with food stamps."

The CBS anchor didn't mention the NAACP part of the line in his question, so Gingrich clarified the full context in his answer:

GINGRICH: Well, it is true- it is true for all Americans. It's true for Native Americans, it's true for Asian Americans, true for Latino Americans, true for white Americans, and true for black Americans. The original statement, however, was in the context of saying I would love to be invited by the NAACP to come to their convention, because the President has particularly failed to pay attention to the tremendous unemployment- we've had 43% black teenage unemployment. That is a disaster, because it sets up a social pattern that's very hard for young people to go out and get jobs- get into the job market.

Just before this, Rose raised the question of whether all the infighting in the GOP in the primary process would end up hurting the party in the general election:

ROSE: Conservatives have not been able to coalesce around a candidate, and as the, sort of, fighting gets tougher, they are- Republicans and conservatives- are saying, we may very well be weakening our likely nominee so that President Obama will be able to take advantage of it. Even conservatives are making that point now, as you well know.

When Gingrich brushed this aside, the CBS anchor clarified that South Carolina Senator Jim DeMint had made this point. But the presidential hopeful stuck to his argument that "Obama is going to be plenty tough. Whoever we nominate had better be prepared to endure the campaign with Obama."

Charlie Rose, CBS News Anchor; & Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich | NewsBusters.orgEarlier in the interview, Rose, like his colleague George Stephanopoulos did on ABC's Good Morning America at about the same time, harped on the possibility that Mitt Romney might be the inevitable GOP candidate if he wins the primary in South Carolina: "What has to happen to prevent Governor Romney from doing so well in South Carolina that he wraps it up?" After Gingrich's initially answered by stating that he would win, the anchor followed up by asking, "But if you don't do that and Romney wins, is it all over?"

The full transcript of Charlie Rose's interview of Newt Gingrich, which began 10 minutes into the 7 am Eastern hour of Tuesday's CBS This Morning:

CHARLIE ROSE: Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich is also in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Good morning, Mr. Speaker.

NEWT GINGRICH, (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Good morning, Charlie.

[CBS News Graphic: "Campaign 2012: Gingrich On South Carolina Debate"]

ROSE: You heard Jan Crawford- you may have heard Jan Crawford say that you did well in last night's debate, but also, time is running out. What has to happen if- to prevent Governor [Mitt] Romney from doing so well in South Carolina that he wraps it up?

GINGRICH: Well, I think two things, and I think last night helped with both of them. First, I think I have to prove that I'm a much better debater, much more capable of taking on Barack Obama, and standing toe to toe with the President and getting across conservative values. And second, I have to convince the people who might like to vote for [Rick] Santorum or might like to vote for [Rick] Perry that, in fact, those would be wasted votes, that the only way they can get a conservative nominee is to vote for me on Saturday. If we can do those two things- convince wavering voters I would be much better at defeating Barack Obama because I'm so much more effective at communicating conservatism in a debate setting, and convince the conservative voters who, right now, might go to Perry or Santorum, that the only way they can stop a moderate from winning is to vote for me. I think we'll win on Saturday. I think it''s going to be a close run, but I think we may be able to pull it off.

ROSE: But if you don't do that and Romney wins, is it all over?

GINGRICH: Well, it's certainly much harder. It depends on what the total vote is. If he's down at 29 or 30, then I think we're still in a serious race. If he gets up to 40 or 45, then, you know, you have to be realistic about it. So I don't see any evidence yet of him doing that well, and I think last night, frankly, weakened him a little bit, and I think his refusal to release his income tax weakened him some. South Carolinians-

[CBS News Graphic: "Gallup Poll, 2012 GOP Presidential Fight: 37%, Romney; 14%, Santorum; 14%, Santorum; 12%, Paul; 5%, Perry; Margin Of Error: +/- 4% Pts."]

ROSE: Even though he says he'll do it by April?

GINGRICH: Charlie, if you're a South Carolinian, you're saying, wait a second. Why don't you want me to know about it? Why are you going to wait until after I have voted? And I think- last night, he conceded in principle that he owes it to the public to share it. It strikes me he ought to do it before South Carolina votes. But I also think South Carolinians care about things- I mentioned last night the I-73 corridor of hope to replace what Barack Obama had called a corridor of shame of unemployment- very important in the Myrtle Beach area. And I've also talked about modernizing the port of Charleston- very, very important to the economy in South Carolina.

ROSE: But two things are- seem to be happening: number one, conservatives have not been able to coalesce around a candidate, and as the, sort of, fighting gets tougher, they are- Republicans and conservatives- are saying, we may very well be weakening our likely nominee so that President Obama will be able to take advantage of it. Even conservatives are making that point now, as you well know.


GINGRICH: Well, I think, actually, that's pretty silly. Barack Obama is going to have a billion dollars, the power of the White House, and the advantage of most support from the elite media. Whoever we nominate had better be able to stand there and win the debate on stage because they're not going to be able to raise the kind money Obama is going to have. Obama will be plenty tough, no matter who we nominate. That person had better be battle-tested and seasoned and ready. This is the most important election of our lifetime, and defeating Barack Obama is vital for the future of this country-

ROSE: But the person who made that-

GINGRICH: We need our best, toughest debater (unintelligible) I think to be the nominee-

ROSE: But, as you know, the person who made that was Senator Jim DeMint from South Carolina.

GINGRICH: Well, I'm just saying I think that it's- Obama is going to be plenty tough. Whoever we nominate had better be prepared to endure the campaign with Obama, and I think- and that's, frankly, why, as people generally agree, that I'm the best debater we have. We need somebody who is a solid conservative, who can stand toe to toe on that stage, who can defeat Obama in a series of debates.

ROSE: I want to give you an opportunity, because the point was made, in your comments, about it's better for black Americans to seek a job than it is to seek food stamps, and many people stepped forward to say, isn't that simply true for all Americans who are desperately looking for jobs? That's what they want, not just black Americans-
               
GINGRICH: Well, it is true- it is true for all Americans. It's true for Native Americans, it's true for Asian Americans, true for Latino Americans, true for white Americans, and true for black Americans. The original statement, however, was in the context of saying I would love to be invited by the NAACP to come to their convention, because the President has particularly failed to pay attention to the tremendous unemployment- we've had 43% black teenaged unemployment. That is a disaster, because it sets up a social pattern that's very hard for young people to go out and get jobs- get into the job market. So I'm addressing, for example, here in South Carolina- the President described an area between Myrtle Beach and I-95 as a corridor of shame. After three years, he's done nothing. That's why building I-73 is so important. We need to turn it into a corridor of hope. That's a very important concept in an area that's, frankly, very largely African American.

ROSE: Mr. Speaker, thank you for joining us this morning-

GINGRICH: Good to be with you, Charlie-

ROSE: We will follow you on the campaign trail.

GINGRICH: Thank you.

Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan is a news analyst at Media Research Center