OPIOID SERIES:

Congressman: Gingrich critics ‘sensitive'

A congressman supporting Newt Gingrich for president said critics of the former Speaker are “sensitive.”

Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas), the first member of Congress to endorse Gingrich’s bid for the White House, told the Hill, “He was an activist Speaker.”

Barton noted Gingrich helped crafted the Contract with America and passed welfare reform and a balanced budget act.

ADVERTISEMENT
“You step on members’ toes sometimes when you want to get things done and some of those members not only have sensitive toes, but they have long memories,” Barton said.

Gingrich has been attacked in recent weeks by some of his former colleagues in Congress, including Sens. Tom CoburnThomas (Tom) Allen CoburnPension insolvency crisis only grows as Congress sits on its hands Paul Ryan should realize that federal earmarks are the currency of cronyism Republicans in Congress shouldn't try to bring back earmarks MORE (R-Okla.) and Richard BurrRichard Mauze BurrOvernight Cybersecurity: Staff changes upend White House cyber team | Trump sends cyber war strategy to Congress | CIA pick to get hearing in May | Malware hits Facebook accounts Senators express concerns over Haspel's 'destruction of evidence' Overnight Cybersecurity: US, UK blame Russia for global cyberattacks | Top cyber official leaving White House | Zuckerberg to meet EU digital chief MORE (R-N.C.) and former Rep. Joe Scarborough (R-Fla.).

Coburn said he found Gingrich’s leadership “lacking” in Congress. Burr told The Hill earlier this year that Gingrich has the attention span of a 1 year-old. Scarborough has dubbed the ex-Speaker a “bad person” who is “not fit to be president of the United States.”

The Gingrich campaign is looking to counter the narrative that most of Gingrich’s former colleagues in the House are working against him.

Lawmakers say that Gingrich has been leaning on them to get on board, pointing out that he started calling them months ago. A GOP strategist speaking on background told The Washington Post last week that Gingrich planned to roll out endorsements to rebut claims that he was a poor leader in the House.

Barton, who served as a deputy whip to Gingrich when the Georgia Republican was minority whip, said the Gingrich campaign will be putting out “some” new Capitol Hill backers over the next couple of weeks.

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (R) is lapping the GOP field in congressional endorsements. Romney has 56 while Gingrich only has 8, according to The Hill’s tally.

Meanwhile, Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) has 13 while Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) has three and Rep. Michele BachmannMichele Marie BachmannBachmann won't run for Franken's Senate seat because she did not hear a 'call from God' Billboard from ‘God’ tells Michele Bachmann not to run for Senate Pawlenty opts out of Senate run in Minnesota MORE recently received the backing of Rep. Trent FranksHarold (Trent) Trent FranksArizona GOP tinkers with election rules with an eye on McCain's seat More than 40 Dem House challengers outraising GOP incumbents Cook Political Report shifts seven House races toward Dems MORE (R-Ariz.).

Barton downplayed the importance of endorsements for Gingrich, saying, “The better well known you are, the less important endorsements are.”

ADVERTISEMENT
Yet, Barton noted that endorsements do help, especially at the grassroots level.

The Hill this month reported that some, but not all, of Georgia’s GOP delegation are backing Gingrich.

Barton indicated the soon-to-be-unveiled endorsements will occur before the Iowa Caucus, though sought to lower expectations a bit.

“You’re not going to see 100 members endorsing [Gingrich],” Barton said.