Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich called child labor laws "stupid" Friday in an appearance at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government.
"It is tragic what we do in the poorest neighborhoods, entrapping children in, first of all, child laws, which are truly stupid," said the former House speaker, according to CNN. "Most of these schools ought to get rid of the unionized janitors, have one master janitor and pay local students to take care of the school. The kids would actually do work, they would have cash, they would have pride in the schools, they'd begin the process of rising."
"You're going to see from me extraordinarily radical proposals to fundamentally change the culture of poverty in America," he added.
Generally, the Fair Labor Standards Act allows minors over 14 to work in most jobs, with several exceptions for minors under that age. Hours are limited for minors under the age of 16. Some states have higher age standards.
He also said Saturday Occupy Wall Street protesters should "take a bath" and "get a job."
Gingrich has risen in the polls to a virtual tie with former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, according to a Gallup poll released Monday.
He still faces questions over his role as a consultant for Freddie Mac, for which he was paid at least $1.5 million for strategic advice from 1999 to 2007. Gingrich has denied ever lobbying for the company and had criticized then-candidate Barack Obama for accepting campaign contributions from the firm. In an interview with USA Today published Monday, he said, "You start with people with a socialist bias that you shouldn't earn money. If you do, "you're automatically suspicious of having done something bad," he added.
Timothy Carney of the Washington Examiner disputed Gingrich's claim that he was never a lobbyist. The columnist reported that the former House speaker tried to convince Capitol Hill Republicans to add a prescription drug benefit to Medicare while being paid for by drug companies. Gingrich denied the report Monday, saying he publicly advocated the benefit and was doing well financially at the time.
Gingrich unveiled a plan Monday to allow younger workers to invest their Social Security in private retirement accounts, similar to an unsuccessful plan proposed by former President George W. Bush.
In an interview over the weekend with the Christian Broadcasting Network, Gingrich was asked how he is a better candidate than in the past. He said, "I do fewer dumb things."