Washington Watch Roundtable: The Rise Of Newt & His Baggage, Anybody But Romney, Ask Bin Laden If POTUS Engages In Appeasement (VIDEO)

As usual, the GOP presidential candidates, they’re all in the news; and everybody is fawning over Newt Gingrich, saying “the rise of Newt.” He’s saying, “Look, I’m going to be the candidate.” So, why do we even need a primary?


MR. MARTIN:  Lots to talk about again this week on the roundtable.  Political commentator Cynthia Tucker, syndicated columnist George Curry, political blogger Crystal Wright of conservativeblackchick.com, and national economics correspondent for “The Washington Post” Michael Fletcher.

All right, folks, it’s been a crazy week.  As usual, the GOP presidential candidates, they’re all in the news; and everybody is fawning over Newt Gingrich, saying “the rise of Newt.”  He’s saying, “Look, I’m going to be the candidate.”

So, why do we even need a primary?


MR. MARTIN:  Why don’t just go ahead and just – just e- — end this thing right now?

And, now, what I find to be interesting, though, is that he’s leading.  Romney’s in third.  Paul’s in second, and all this talk for years about how you need to spend so much time in Iowa and the ground the game – that’s now obsolete.

MS. CYNTHIA TUCKER:  This campaign, Roland, is turning the traditional rules and strategies upside down.  In fact, it’s interesting to watch old-line political consultants trying to deal with this.  We were told that Newt Gingrich wasn’t serious, couldn’t possibly be a real candidate.  He didn’t have any money, didn’t have any organization; and that’s what you needed for Iowa.

Well, guess what?  He is leading in Iowa.

MR. MARTIN:  He’s got one state office.  [Chuckles.]  He’s got one office in the whole state.

MS. CRYSTAL WRIGHT:  Right, right.  And Romney has put all this money in Iowa and Florida, and funny enough, the reason why we need primaries is because Newt Gingrich has proved all along in the – in the debates – he gets better and better and better, and now he’s trouncing Romney in Florida, South Carolina, Iowa, and narrowing the lead in – in New Hampshire.  And the fact of the matter is he is the most qualified, and I think it’s really ironic that the mainstream media was pushing Romney, pushing Romney; but to your point, Roland, this is why we need primaries – for the American people to let the candidates reveal themselves, if you will, on their positions.  And Romney failed in ’08, and I think he will fail in 2012.

MS. TUCKER:  You kn- —

MR. MICHAEL FLETCHER:  You know, the irony, though, I think is, you know, by many objective measures, Romney has done pretty well in these debates; and much of this primary campaign has really been about the debate stage.  But for whatever reason, Romney can’t break through a certain ceiling of GOP support – be it a quarter of the vote or not[?] – and – and that’s – that’s killing him.

MR. GEORGE CURRY:  What – what is amazing is that Gingrich has more – so much baggage, that even Southwest Airlines charges him a baggage fee.

MR. MARTIN:  [Laughs.]


MR. CURRY:  But right now, it doesn’t matter, because the people just want anybody but Romney – and – and in spite of all of his – his – his baggage.  And I think, still, this is not over yet.  You remember they said the same thing about Rick Perry – that he –


MR. CURRY:  — was going to walk –

OFF CAMERA:  Exactly.

MR. CURRY:  — away with the nomination.  This thing is far from –

MR. MARTIN:  He- —

MR. CURRY:  — over.

MR. MARTIN:  — he- — here’s what jumps out at me.  First of all – I – I’m going to get to the baggage stuff i- — in one second.  But when you talk about this campaign and how it is progressing, I certainly believe that anger is driving a lot of this.  When Newt goes off in a debate, when he’s going after the media, people are like, “Yay!  Yay!  Yay! Go ’head.  Do it, Newt!”  And he’s w- — and he’s sort of – sort of pushing all those buttons.  And we want to deny how anger is driving this, but anger drove the Tea Party. Anger is driving Occupy Wall Street.  This is still a nation that is ticked off with lots of people – not just Pres. Obama.

MS. WRIGHT:  Right, right.

MR. MARTIN:  Wall Street.

MS. WRIGHT:  Right.

MR. MARTIN:  They’re ticked off with Congress.  They’re saying, “Look.  We just wanna cuss anybody out.”

MS. WRIGHT:  Well, I think it’s frustration –


MS. WRIGHT:  — like you said.  I mean – I mean I think everybody on the left and the right, the Tea Party, the Occupy Wall Street; and that anger and frustration, let’s hope, is reflected to people going out to the polls in 2012.  That’s what the anger and frustration should be focused on – making sure folks are going to actually vote and exercise their right to vote, because many people are saying Black Americans are not going to come out in full force, like they did for Obama in 2008.

MS. TUCKER:  You know, back to Mitt Romney, Crystal says that the mainstream media were pushing Romney.  I would disagree with that.  It certainly – the Republican establishment was pushing Romney and still is.

MR. MARTIN:  And they’re – they’re going after Newt Gingrich pretty hard.

MS. TUCKER:  Absolutely!  But Romney does not satisfy that need for anger with the base.  He’s not an angry guy any more than Obama is, and when he tries to project anger, it seems inautha- — inauthentic.

But that’s right in Newt Gingrich’s wheelhouse – that over-the-top rhetoric, that bombast.  He is very good at delivering that, and the base loves it.

MR. MARTIN:  I – I –

MS. WRIGHT:  But – but –

MR. MARTIN:  — I wa- —

MS. WRIGHT:  — wait.

MR. MARTIN:  — I want to show – now, w- — hold one second.

MS. WRIGHT:  Okay.

MR. MARTIN:  I want to sho- — go to this ad that a Romney PAC put out this week – put it up, then took it back down and said, “Well, it’s not finished yet.”  Check this out.


VOICEOVER:  [Photo of Pres. Obama.]  Why is this man smiling?  Because his plan is working:  brutally attack Mitt Romney and hope Newt Gingrich is his opponent.  Why?  Newt has a tone of baggage – like the fact that Gingrich was fined $300,000 for ethics violations, or that he took at least $1.6 million from Freddie Mac just before it helped cause the economic meltdown.  Then there’s the $37 million Gingrich took from healthcare and industry groups.  And on the issues?  Newt’s been on all sides.  He supports amnesty for millions of illegal immigrants.  Gingrich even teamed up with Nancy Pelosi and Al Gore on global warming; and Newt was a longtime supporter of a national health insurance mandate, the centerpiece of Obamacare.


MR. MARTIN:  Wow!  Now – now – now, here – now, here’s what’s interesting.  I watch all of these shows, and folks say. “Oh, all Americans know about Newt’s baggage.”  No.  Washington, D.C., and New York media people know about it.  I don’t necessarily believe that the nation as a whole actually understands all the stuff that happened with Newt, and in campaigns like this, this is what happens when you run; all of your stuff is exposed.

MS. WRIGHT:  Well, I think that ad is – is a huge distortion, and I think what Romney is trying to do is undermine –

MR. MARTIN:  What was the –

MS. WRIGHT:  — I –

MR. MARTIN:  — what was distorted –

MS. WRIGHT:  — i- — it’s a –

MR. MARTIN:  — in the –

MS. WRIGHT:  — it’s a –

MR. MARTIN:  — ad?

MS. WRIGHT:  — it’s a huge distortion in the ad.  First of all, Newt Gingrich has baggage, just like Bill Clinton had tons of baggage when he was running in ’92.  The fact of the matter is when Speaker Gingrich ran the House and got Republicans back into leadership after decades of not being in leadership, 4 percent unemployment.  He forced Bill Clinton to tack to the center, welfare reform and a balanced budget – and they had a surplus.  So, you know, the – the ad –

MR. MARTIN:  So – so –

MS. WRIGHT:  — is a –

MR. MARTIN:  — why – so –

MS. WRIGHT:  — distortion.

MR. MARTIN:  — why did the House Re- —

MS. WRIGHT:  The ad –

MR. MARTIN:  — -publicans try to –

MS. WRIGHT:  — is a distortion.  As far –

MR. MARTIN:  — so – but –

MS. WRIGHT:  — as the –

MR. MARTIN:  — but, Crystal –

MS. WRIGHT:  — individual mandate

MR. MARTIN:  — Crystal, why did the House –

MS. WRIGHT:  — dis- –

MR. MARTIN:  — Republicans try to –

MS. WRIGHT:  — dis- –

MR. MARTIN:  — overthrow him, then?

MS. WRIGHT:  — dis- —

MR. MARTIN:  The- — there –

MS. WRIGHT:  — -agree.

MR. MARTIN:  — the- — no, no.  But there were several coup attempts to overthrow him.  Also, th- — they lost the House, and

MS. WRIGHT:  Right.  Tha- — th- — he –

MR. MARTIN:  — Whi- –

MS. WRIGHT:  — lost the –

MR. MARTIN:  — Whi- –

MS. WRIGHT:  — coup at- —

MR. MARTIN:  — White, suburban –

MS. WRIGHT:  — -tempt.

MR. MARTIN:  — women –

MS. WRIGHT:  They lost the –

MR. MARTIN:  — White, suburban –

MS. WRIGHT:  — coup attempt.

MR. MARTIN:  — women were angry at Newt Gingrich because of the attacks on the poor.  That was one of the reasons why compassionate conservatism sold so well by George W. Bush in the year 2000.

MR. CURRY:  See, I don’t – I do- —

MR. MARTIN:  George.

MR. CURRY:  — I – I think the – the accura- — the ads are accurate, but I thi- — I think it don’t matter.  I mean, really, at this point, “anybody but Mitt” is the – is – is – is – because Newt Gingrich is the last man –

MR. MARTIN:  Gotcha.

MR. CURRY:  — standing.  Period.

MR. MARTIN:  Gotcha.

MR. CURRY:  And – and it w- —

MR. MARTIN:  Now – [crosstalk] –

MR. CURRY:  — and it won’t matter.

MR. MARTIN:  — now, this week there was a presidential news conference.  The President took a couple of questions, and he was asked about these – this whole issue of whether he believes in appeasement.  The President, Mr. Cool, sort of shot back, in a very cool way, this answer.


PRES. BARACK OBAMA:  Ask Osama bin Laden and the 22 out of 30 top Al Qaeda leaders who’ve been taken off the field whether I engage in appeasement – or whoever’s left out there.  Ask them about that.


MS. TUCKER:  The most interesting –

MR. MARTIN:  That pretty much –

MS. WRIGHT:  — thing –

MR. MARTIN:  — shut everybody up with that question!


MS. TUCKER:  — I’m tellin’ you.  The most interesting thing was how quickly he shot back.  This is an attack the Republicans have lobbed at the President before.  He usually – Mr. Cool – ignores it, walks away, but this is campaign season.  And just as you said about Newt Gingrich, we shouldn’t assume that voters know all of his baggage, Obama no longer assumes that re- — voters remember that just a few months ago –


MS. TUCKER:  — we captured and assassinated – quite frankly, took out – Osama bin Laden.  So, now that it’s campaign season, he’s not going to r- — let the Republicans get by with any of these shots unanswered.

MR. MARTIN:  I think –


MR. MARTIN:  — this – this, for –

MS. WRIGHT:  — I think –

MR. MARTIN:  — the first time –

MS. WRIGHT:  — it was a homerun.  I –


MS. WRIGHT:  — I mean I think – I think it was a homerun.

MR. FLETCHER:  — of course.

MS. WRIGHT:  I think for – finally, the President – we see some passion from him.  But he’s right.  You know, the – the fact –

MR. MARTIN:  Actually, he –

MS. WRIGHT:  — of the –

MR. MARTIN:  — wasn’t being –

MS. WRIGHT:  — matter is –

MR. MARTIN:  — passionate.  That was –

MS. WRIGHT:  — it was passionate –

MR. MARTIN:  — tha- — that was just –

MS. WRIGHT:  — and it was –

MR. MARTIN:  — tha- — that was – that was like –

MS. WRIGHT:  — but that was a homerun.  That was like –

MR. MARTIN:  — “boom!

MR. FLETCHER:  [Crosstalk] –

MS. WRIGHT:  — “Booyah!  I’m gon’” –

MR. FLETCHER:  — and pointed.

MS. WRIGHT:  — “smack ya down.”  And –

MR. MARTIN:  Right.

MS. WRIGHT:  — he did.  And I think – I think –

MR. MARTIN:  [Chuckles.]

MS. WRIGHT:  — to Cynthia’s point, he needs to do more of that.  I mean we need to see more of that real, like, “Here are my accomplishments.”  Obama needs to run on accomplishments – although very little that he has in this Administration, both foreign policy and domestic – instead of trying to attack Republicans about, “Oh, you’re just so big and bad, and the reason why I can’t get anything done, because I’m King Obama, and you’re supposed to kowtow to me.”

MR. FLETCHER:  But I – I think –

MS. WRIGHT:  We should see –

MR. FLETCHER:  — we’ve seen –

MS. WRIGHT:  — more of what he’s –

MR. FLETCHER:  — the President starting –

MS. WRIGHT:  — doing, like that.

MR. FLETCHER:  — to pull together the strands of his achievements and starting to put together the – kind of a coherent message, and you see this kind of thing forming towards the campaign:  “I’m the defender of the middle class.  The Republicans are the defenders of the rich.”  And Obama more and more has been taking that kind of oppositional –

MR. MARTIN:  And – and I –

MR. FLETCHER:  — approach in de- —

MR. MARTIN:  — think, Geor- —

MR. FLETCHER:  — in dealing with – [crosstalk].

MR. MARTIN:  — and – and I think, George, look, this week we saw Republicans deny a – a – an appointee to the U.S. Court of Appeals, [and] the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which was absolutely about protecting Wall Street because they despise any kind of transparency and oversight; and the President going after them saying, “Wait a minute.  Ei-” – “You[‘ve] got to make a decision.  Either you’re with the American people, or you’re with the special interests.”  And I don’t think this is one election where you can really try to defend Wall Street against some – some of the stuff –

MR. CURRY:  Yeah.

MR. MARTIN:  — out there.

MR. CURRY:  I – I agree.  I think what we’re seeing now, basically, is Obama, the candidate, as opposed to Obama, the President.  People like Barack Obama as he campaigned, and he – once he got into office, he’s be- — he became more like George Bush on some areas, particularly in foreign – foreign o- —

MR. MARTIN:  He went –

MR. CURRY:  — affairs.

MR. MARTIN:  — to Kansas this week, and he talked about the whole issue of inequality.  So, here’s a bit of what he had to say.


PRES. OBAMA:  In the last few decades, the average income of the top 1 percent has gone up by more than 250 percent, to $1.2 million per year.  The typical CEO who used to earn about 30 times more than hin- — his or her worker now earns 110 times more.  And, yet, over the last decade, the incomes of most Americans have actually fallen by about 6 percent.

Inequality also distorts our democracy.  It gives an outsized voice to the few who can afford high-priced lobbyists and unlimited campaign contributions, and it runs the risk of selling out our democracy to the highest bidder.

But there’s an even more fundamental issue at stake.  This kind of gaping inequality gives lie to the promise that’s at the very heart of America, that this is a place where you can make it you try.


MR. MARTIN:  Here’s what’s interesting.  We spent all of last year, the first half – really, the first six months of this year – it was about “debt, debt, debt.”  Occupy Wall Street comes – comes on, and all of a sudden, they helped force Pres. Obama, it even forced the Republicans to have to address inequality.  It’s amazing how the conversation has shifted to this inequality of income in this country.

MS. TUCKER:  Thank heaven for Occupy Wall Street for just that reason.  Even if they completely disappear, don’t accomplish anything else, they’ve already changed the conversation nationally – and more to the point, in Washington.  And Republicans are afraid of that message.  You see the struggling to try to figure out a way to respond, and a couple of secret memos have been revealed where Republicans were worried about, “How do we do something about this Occupy Wall Street message about income inequality, because it’s resonating with the American people?”


MR. FLETCHER:  What’s interesting is the President could’ve given that speech, you know, in his first month in office, because those trends were apparent then.

MR. MARTIN:  Right.

MR. FLETCHER:  They’ve become worse as the recession has taken a bigger bite out of America.  But h- — for whatever reason, he didn’t see it in his political interest to deliver a speech like that.  It’s heartening to see him doing that now, but – and seeing the conversation shift, but he spent a lot of time, to – [chuckles] – to use this word – appeasing and trying to appease Republicans, you know, economically.  And –

MS. WRIGHT:  But –

MR. FLETCHER:  — and I think he’s now seeing some benefit –

MR. MARTIN:  Crystal –

MS. WRIGHT:  — a- — and –

MR. FLETCHER:  — in now –

MR. MARTIN:  — then George.

MR. FLETCHER:  — doing that.

MS. WRIGHT:  — well – a- — and then I – you know –

MR. MARTIN:  Wrap this all up.

MS. WRIGHT:  — I – but – but I don’t think it’s – it’s helpful to continue to demonize higher-income workers.  And if there really is – if he’s really concerned about income inequality with what he is referring to as the “working class” and the “middle class,” he shouldn’t be approving $500 million loans to – to a special class of folks like Solyndra.  And he talks about special interests in that speech.  The big labor unions poured $400 million in the last campaign cycle, so they’re a huge special interest groups [sic], and Obama believes in protecting union workers over the so-called “middle class” that he’s talking about.  And if income inequality is a huge issue of our time, then Obama needs to get serious and start talking about solutions to address that that aren’t –

MR. MARTIN:  I – I –

MS. WRIGHT:  — influenced by –

MR. MARTIN:  — I – I have – I have –

MS. WRIGHT:  — big labor –

MR. MARTIN:  — I have George with –

MS. WRIGHT:  — and other groups.

MR. MARTIN:  — I have George with the final comment, but –

MR. CURRY:  Yeah.

MR. MARTIN:  — here’s the – here’s the reality.  Every president, Commerce Department, Energy Department – they actually make loans to companies.  So, whether it’s Solyndra, whether it’s any other company –

MS. WRIGHT:  Right.

MR. MARTIN:  — that’s what we –

MS. WRIGHT:  And the White –

MR. MARTIN:  — do.

MS. WRIGHT:  — House –


MS. WRIGHT:  — intimately in- —

MR. MARTIN:  — oh, no, no.

MS. WRIGHT:  — -volved with –

MR. MARTIN:  No, no.

MS. WRIGHT:  — that loan.

MR. MARTIN:  But – no.  But I’m – but I’m making the point –

MS. WRIGHT:  Right.

MR. MARTIN:  — whether you’re Democrat or Republican, it’s called, in America, “corporate welfare.”  That’s just the reality.

George –

MR. CURRY:  The President –

MR. MARTIN:  — final comment.

MR. CURRY:  — the President is not “demonizing” the rich.  All’s he’s saying [is], “Let’s go back to where we were pre-Bush taxes and make them pay their fair share, like everybody else.”  That’s not demonizing –

MR. MARTIN:  [Crosstalk] –

MR. CURRY:  — anybody.

MR. MARTIN:  — also, again, though, if you’re one of those folks [and] you don’t like what he has to say about it, I understand that.  But you can’t deny 275 percent, 40 percent – and, at the end of the day, you can’t say, “Oh, don’t touch them.”  We have an expanding folks on on food stamps and expansion o- — of poverty as well.  So, then people say, “What do we do with them?”  You –

MS. WRIGHT:  Under his –

MR. MARTIN:  — can’t just say –

MS. WRIGHT:  — leadership –

MR. MARTIN:  — well –

MS. WRIGHT:  — we’ve had expanding –

MR. MARTIN:  — we- — well, actually –

MS. WRIGHT:  — unemployment –

MR. MARTIN:  — last I checked –

MS. WRIGHT:  — and we had –

MR. MARTIN:  — we were –

MS. WRIGHT:  — expanding people –

MR. MARTIN:  — losing 500,000 –

MS. WRIGHT:  — on food –

MR. MARTIN:  — but, Crystal –

MS. WRIGHT:  — stamps.

MR. MARTIN:  — the facts are –

MS. WRIGHT:  Yeah.

MR. MARTIN:  — we were losing 500,000 jobs a month –

MS. WRIGHT:  And he’s President.

MR. MARTIN:  — under – under – Pres. Bush.

MS. WRIGHT:  Um-hum.

MR. MARTIN:  That’s a fact.  That’s not an opinion.

MS. WRIGHT:  Actually –

MR. MARTIN:  One thing o- —

MS. WRIGHT:  — in 2007, Bush –

MR. MARTIN:  — no, no, no.

MS. WRIGHT:  — was creating –

MR. MARTIN:  Bu- — bu- — but –

MS. WRIGHT:  — 68,000 –

MR. MARTIN:  — Crystal, Crystal –

MS. WRIGHT:  — jobs –

MR. MARTIN:  — Crystal –

MS. WRIGHT:  — a month –

MR. MARTIN:  — Crystal, Crystal, that’s ’07.  Two years later –

MS. WRIGHT:  — right.

MR. MARTIN:  — we’re losing jobs.

MS. WRIGHT:  Um-hum.

MR. MARTIN:  The recession started in ’07.

MS. WRIGHT:  Um-hum.

MR. MARTIN:  Those are facts – not opinion.

MS. WRIGHT:  And President –

MR. MARTIN:  And you can’t –

MS. WRIGHT:  — [crosstalk]- —

MR. MARTIN:  — don’t spin facts.

MS. WRIGHT:  — Pres. Bush hasn’t –

MR. MARTIN:  I want to thank –

MS. WRIGHT:  — been President –

MR. MARTIN:  — Cynthia, George –

MS. WRIGHT:  — for the last –

MR. MARTIN:  — Crystal –

MS. WRIGHT:  — three years.

MR. MARTIN:  — and Mike.  I appreciate it.  Like – on this show, we don’t spin facts.  We just simply state them.