Former Republican presidential contender Newt Gingrich is standing by what critics have called racially tinged remarks about food stamps.
On Tuesday's edition of PoliticsNation, host Al Sharpton revisited some of Newt Gingrich's campaign comments on food stamps and African-Americans, and asked whether Republicans routinely use such statements as a means of appeasing the party's more extreme elements.
During his campaign for the Republican nomination for president, former speaker Gingrich had referred to President Obama as a “food stamp” president, said that African-Americans should be demanding paychecks instead of food stamps, and argued that children in public housing projects lack good role models.
“This kind of talk, this kind of language you use, is it just playing to the right wing?" Sharpton asked. He added, "Do you still defend now what you said?"
Gingrich insisted that he deserves credit for caring for African-Americans. “Having a conservative Republican that actually cares there's 43 percent black teenage employment, I would think it's a good thing," he said. "Having a conservative Republican who is eager to go to the NAACP and meet with them, I would think that’s a good thing.”
Sharpton responded by pointing out that, according to the 2010 Census, 49 percent of those on food stamps are white, while only 26 percent are black.
“You didn’t go to a white convention or say you would go there, and tell them to go for paychecks, not food stamps," Sharpton said. "To say that people don’t have people that are role models ... You and I went to south Philadelphia; you saw parents that take their kids to school. You saw black teachers."
Gingrich replied that he may not have stated his position "exactly right," but stood by the content of his argument and insisted that current policies and institutions are not meeting the needs of the working poor.