* * * * PELOSI: Gingrich as President: “THAT WILL NEVER HAPPEN” (below fold) * * * *
Was there an important speech last night? I heard something about the POTUS speaking. Oh well, I missed that one.
Now that I think about Newt walking out onto the debate stage the other night, he actually walks like a duck! Do you remember that profile shot from behind the curtain, looking out toward the audience as Mr. Gingrich walked out? He sorta waddled.
In all seriousness . . .
Monday night, Gingrich told the us that he was merely acting as a concerned “citizen” in all these jobs he has had earning multi-millions of dollars. Right. Again, what do we know? We are all simply naive.
A number of sources yesterday checked into whether Mr. Gingrich used his influence inappropriately. Here is what we find from CNN‘s Truth Squad. You judge:
The New York Times also reported last month that the world’s largest insulin maker, Novo Nordisk, had hired Gingrich to help “position itself as a thought leader” to raise awareness about diabetes.
Former Colorado Rep. Marilyn Musgrave told CNN last month that Gingrich called her at the height of the 2003 debate urging her to vote for the bill.
“Newt called me to vote yes,” said Musgrave, who is now director at the anti-abortion Susan B. Anthony List.
“He asked for a yes vote on a Medicare prescription drug benefit,” she said. “Dick Armey” — a former House majority leader — “called me and wanted a no. But I had already made up my mind to vote not to expand an entitlement that we were going to have to pay for down the road.”
Musgrave, who is neutral in the presidential race, said she was not sure if Gingrich was technically “lobbying” when he called her, because she did not know if he was working for anyone else at the time.
“All I know is he wanted a yes,” Musgrave said.
Musgrave was one of 19 House Republicans who voted against the plan, which passed 220-215.
Two other Republicans who served in Congress at the time, Arizona Rep. Jeff Flake and Idaho Gov. Butch Otter, told the Des Moines Register last month that they interpreted Gingrich’s actions as lobbying.
“He told us, ‘If you can’t pass this bill, you don’t deserve to govern as Republicans,’ ” Flake told the paper. “If that’s not lobbying, I don’t know what is.”
According to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, the bill is projected to cost nearly $1 trillion from 2010 through 2020. The price tag for Medicare Part D was added to the nation’s deficit.
“It was a huge entitlement” that left the insurance and drug industries as big winners, said Uwe Reinhardt, a professor of health economics at Princeton.
The Washington Post refers to the nuance to which Gingrich is referring to stay away from the L-word:
The law is very specific about what constitutes lobbying, having to do with, among other things, the number of times one meets with legislators and/or how many times one speaks to a particular group. If you come just under that number, then you’re technically within legal bounds.
Gingrich’s claim to have been hired as a historian, meanwhile, is a hard sell when no such role exists.
Yet another mother lode for Gingrich has been the health care industry. Various companies paid Gingrich $55 million between 2001 and 2010, according to Bloomberg News. When asked what the companies received in return, Gingrich told The Post that they got to visit with “a really important guy who really knows a lot and who really has lots of information.” That person would be Gingrich’s Holy Trinity — Me, Myself and I.
He also personally urged GOP congressmen to support the $395 billion Medicare prescription drug benefit, according to, among others, Rep. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) and former congressmen Jeff Bradley (R-N.H.) and Butch Otter (R-Idaho). Gingrich is unapologetic for supporting the Medicare benefit, especially while campaigning in Florida, where an appreciative elderly population is otherwise known as a significant voting bloc. And it was, after all, a Republican initiative under President George W. Bush, even though many conservatives opposed it then as now.
Gingrich has insisted that throughout these dealings he was merely acting as a private concerned citizen, chatting up his colleagues about issues of mutual interest. This may well be the case, even within the legal definition of lobbying, but most people don’t get paid millions to shoot the bull over massively lucrative legislative initiatives.
For Gingrich in Wonderland, as Humpty Dumpty explained to Alice, “When I use a word, it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.”
From the conference call five days ago we have this brief exchange between Jennifer Rubin of the Washington Post and Congressman Flake:
JENNIFER RUBIN: “Thank you all for taking the time to do the call today. I have a question for all of you, but particularly for Jeff Flake who was there during the Medicare Part D debate. Newt Gingrich claims that he was a historian or a consultant for a number of special interest groups, did he ever talk to you, urge you, lobby you in the sense of the face to face communications or over the phone communications on Medicare of Freddie Mac or any of the other issues that he was representing special interests?”
REP. JEFF FLAKE: “He never lobbied me individually, but I remember very well the meeting we had, the caucus meeting, the conference meeting, where Billy Tauzin brought Newt in as kind of the closer when they needed the last few votes. And Newt says, quite memorably said, that ‘if you can’t pass this bill, you don’t deserve to govern.’ And, yeah, he lobbied us pretty hard in that meeting. My understanding is he lobbied some members individually but he didn’t lobby me individually.”
I am having some trouble loading videos to my articles, but you can view this extraordinary, brief interview with Nancy Pelosi — here are her words in print (as you watch the video, watch her face — it is everything she can do to not tell all right there on the spot!):
John King, CNN: “You make your case there passionately for President Obama. But also understand that this is a tough reelection climate for any president, Democrat or Republican in this economy. Because of your history with Speaker Gingrich, what goes through your mind when you think of the possibility, which is more real today than it was a week or a month ago, that he would be the Republican nominee and that you could come back here next January or next February with a President Gingrich?”
Rep. Nancy Pelosi: “Let me just say this. That will never happen.”
Pelosi: “He’s not going to be President of the United States. That’s not going to happen. Let me just make my prediction and stand by it, it isn’t going to happen.”
King: “Why are you so sure?”
Pelosi: “There is something I know. The Republicans, if they choose to nominate him that’s their prerogative. I don’t even think that’s going to happen.”
This is very simple to understand. Remember the 84 ethics charges brought against Mr. Gingrich? Details of these are buried right now. I wonder who has access to them? Ms. Pelosi was around in those days. How difficult would it be for her to slip a few choice documents over to the White House?
That look on her face looks like she is setting up for some good blackmail. No, that can’t be. They wouldn’t do that.
“I did this within a philosophical framework, and a moral and legal framework. And I have been turned into a cartoon of the greatest villain in the history of lobbying.” — Jack Abramoff