In another key moment from his interview with Greta Van Susteren Tuesday night, Newt Gingrich said that his 1993 statements in support of the individual health insurance mandate had to be placed in context of the opposition to Hillary Clinton’s push for universal health care at the time, when the mandate was being talked about in order to stop government-run health care. And he decried the “political amnesia” that led people to focus on those comments, and forget about his more recent activism against the mandate.
Gingrich made the comments during the same interview in which he said, “Any ad which quotes what I said on Sunday is a falsehood, because I have said publicly those words were inaccurate and unfortunate,” regarding his now-retracted comments against Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) proposed budget that would privatize Medicare.
“I do not support a mandate. I am opposed to Obamacare. I am in support of the 26 attorney generals (sic) who have filed suit,” said Gingrich. “The Center for Health Transformation that I supported, that I helped found, has been actively opposed to Obamacare for two-and-a-half years.
“That was a clip from 1993, when in fact, the conservative position was to have individual insurance, in opposition to Hillarycare — because she wanted everybody to be in government — but let’s get that out of the way, okay?”
The key moment comes at the 2:30 mark below:
Van Susteren then interrupted to ask a question: “Let me ask you about, just so I understand this,” said Van Susteren. “So I’m sure I understand, so are you saying in 1993, that there was some sort of hybrid of mandate or whatever, it was supported by the Republican Party. And now, that was in response to the Clinton administration. And now you’ve changed, is that it?”
“No, no,” Gingrich responded. “I’m saying that 18 — imagine this in your own case. I’m saying that you see a 20-second clip from 18 years ago, when you were fighting Hillarycare, and when virtually everybody in the conservative movement was united in trying to stop Hillarycare.
“Now, nobody at that time was talking about the 10th Amendment. Nobody at that time was talking about these kind of constitutional issues. But to jump from that and say, ‘Gosh, if Newt said this in 1993, he must be for Obama’ — skipping, by the way, two-and-a-half years of active, consistent opposition to Obamacare?
“I mean, I think the kind of amnesia that Washington gets into is, frankly, silly.”
Gingrich’s spokesman has not immediately returned TPM’s request for comment, asking whether this meant the 1993 advocacy for an individual mandate was only made out of political considerations, and should not be taken seriously now.