If Newt Gingrich’s 2012 campaign is good for anything, it’s as a tutorial in what not to do as a conservative Republican running for president. And yesterday — right into a TV camera — Gingrich gave yet another master class.
ABC News, it seems, is calling out candidates for hawking campaign gear not made in the USA. The liability of pushing foreign-made buttons, t-shirts and the like in this cycle is obvious: ask any candidate and they’ll tell you the number one facing the electorate is jobs. Dumping campaign contribution money overseas to pay for cheaply-made trinkets isn’t exactly what you’d call “on message.”
ABC already confronted Rick Santorum with his campaign’s Dominican Republic-made t-shirts on the trail in Iowa.
Santorum’s response was to turn the awkward moment into a sort of mini-stump speech about the state of American manufacturing. From the Des Moines Register, which witnessed the ABC News confrontation:
“Made in the Dominican Republic,” he answered: “It’s tragic that so many products in this country are made outside of this country. And what we have to do is create a different dynamic. I think my policies are very clear that we have to go out and make setting up a business in this country productive.
Unfortunately under this administration and frankly previous administrations we have had had a unfriendly environment, particularly to the textile business.
You probably can find a T-shirt occasionally made in the United States but it’s harder and harder to do. That’s the tragedy. It’s a case in point of the tragedy of those kinds of jobs that should be in the United States but are not.”
Gingrich did not go that route. Instead he showed off once again how unpredictable and seemingly out of control his campaign has been since he kicked it off with an attack on the Republican budget.
“I’ll have to ask the folks who ordered this,” he said. “I don’t order it and I don’t do it.”
“One of the challenges with a volunteer campaign is lots of volunteers do lots of different things,” he added.
A spokesperson for the campaign told reporters that the T-shirt ABC news had was “a rush order made by some of the volunteers” and noted that the screen-printing was done in Atlanta.
All in all, not the kind of thing you want to see if you’re running to save the American worker from certain doom. Watch the video: