Newt Gingrich on Friday angrily denounced the media coverage of his comments this week that he would go to the NAACP and tell them “why African Americans should demand paychecks, not food stamps.”
In an interview with CBS’ Early Show, Gingrich said his words were distorted. And in fact, his actual quote was not that blacks should not demand food stamps, but that they should “not be satisfied with them.”
The actual quote of Gingrich’s remarks at a Plymouth, New Hampshire town hall, were, as reported by CBS:
“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.”
NAACP president Benjamin Todd Jealous on Friday condemned those remarks, issuing a statement saying:
“It is a shame that the former Speaker feels that these types of inaccurate, divisive statements are in any way helpful to our country. The majority of people using food stamps are not African-American, and most people using food stamps have a job.
Gingrich has repeatedly called President Barack Obama a “the best food stamp president in history,” saying that he would instead be “the best paycheck president.”
Gingrich on Friday said his words were misinterpreted by the media, telling The Early Show:
“I said they shouldn’t be (satisfied). I didn’t say they were satisfied. You just reversed what I said,” Gingrich told host Nancy Cordes.
“What I said was every American of every background has been endowed by their creator with a right to pursue happiness. Every American of every background should have an opportunity to get a job, not be dependent on food stamps. Every American of every background should be able to go to a school that actually works where they get educated…”
The former House speaker added that “unlike other Republican candidates,” he would welcome an invitation to address the NAACP.
But Jealous, in his statement, noted that such an invitation had been turned down in the past.
“We invited Speaker Gingrich to attend our annual convention several times when he was Speaker of the House, but he declined to join us,” Jealous’ statement read. “If he is invited again, I hope that he would come, with the intention to unite rather than divide.”
“Gingrich’s statement is problematic on several fronts, most importantly because he gets his facts wrong,” Jealous added.
In fact, according to federal data, African-Americans make up 22 percent of those receiving Supplemental Nutrition Assistance, commonly known as “food stamps,” versus 36 percent of recipients who are white.
Gingrich’s remarks came just days after fellow Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum said that he would not seek to “make black people’s lives better using other people’s money.” Santorum has since denied using the word “black,” though the tape of his remarks to an Iowa audience seem to indicate that he did.
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