Gingrich & Goldwater's Foot in Mouth Syndrome: To Backtrack or Not?
Thursday, May 19, 2011 at 10:10PM
W. R. in 1964, 2012, Barry Goldwater, Microposts, Newt Gingrich
Known for his fiery rhetoric, Newt Gingrich is often the strongest voice when it comes to criticizing Democrats. Whether it's his "Kenyan Anticolonial behavior" comment, or calling Sonya Sotomayor a racist, or comparing Ground Zero Mosque supporters to Nazis he's proven that he's unafraid of alienating the left. However he has recently bucked this trend and is now taking heat from the right for his Meet the Press comments last weekend for referring to the Ryan Plan as "radical right wing social engineering". Whether he's trying to moderate his positions or really believes his own statement, it seems counterintuitive to run to the middle in advance of the primary season. 
Another former candidate who often put his foot in his mouth? Barry Goldwater. His famous 1964 "extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice" quote scared moderates and conservatives alike and his comment about sawing off the (liberal) east coast was clearly a campaign faux pas. However, he never backed down. He also took positions that were contrary to the Republican platform: he was pro-choice and he supported Clinton's "don't ask, don't tell" policy. 
Gingrich is by no means similar to Goldwater on most policy issues, but his political approach is clearly different. Goldwater may have lost, but he never backtracked his statements.


Article originally appeared on Will Rabbe, Producer, Journalist & Historian (
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