With nearly three weeks before the Iowa caucus, former House speaker Newt Gingrich has taken the lead among Republican presidential hopefuls. And with Herman Cain's campaign having fizzled as quickly as it surged amid continued allegations of sexual harassment and infidelity, Gingrich's rise in recent polls has made him a marked man.
Gingrich has a long history of making what some have characterized as patronizing, bigoted or outright racist public remarks about minorities, women and the LGBT community. So as he has taken the lead among the candidates, in typical Gingrich fashion, he has continued to make remarks on the campaign trail that have done little to counter the perception that he's too impulsive and impolitic to be a serious contender for the White House.
During a recent interview with the Jewish Channel, Gingrich called the Palestinians an "invented people," then stood by his words during the most recent Republican debates.
"Is what I said factually correct? Yes. Is it historically true? Yes," Gingrich said during the debate, which drew applause. "Somebody ought to have the courage to tell the truth. These people are terrorists," he said. "It's fundamentally time for somebody to have the guts to stand up and say, 'Enough lying about the Middle East.'"
During the same debate, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, right now the second-place candidate, said that Gingrich had essentially tossed his "incendiary words into a place which is a boiling pot," and then raised questions about Gingrich's temperament; for much of the rest of the evening, Gingrich took fire from the field.
Gingrich's politically tin ear has not been limited to minority groups, but seems to extend to any group of which he is not a part.
During a recent campaign stop in Iowa, Gingrich said that "Really poor children in really poor neighborhoods have no habits of working and have nobody around them who works," he said. "So they literally have no habit of showing up on Monday. They have no habit of staying all day. They have no habit of 'I do this and you give me cash,' unless it's illegal."
Here's a sampling of some of the more controversial statements he has made over the years:
In August Gingrich compared the proposed Islamic center near Ground Zero to Nazis erecting a sign near the Holocaust Museum or a Japanese memorial near Pearl Harbor.
In 2007 he said that bilingual education teaches "the language of living in a ghetto."
And in 1995 he said that women were not fit for combat in the trenches because "they get infections."
In a 1994 interview with The New York Times, he proposed that the government should stop giving poor young mothers welfare and instead start building more orphanages.
And during a radio show this summer with host Laura Ingraham, Gingrich criticized First Lady Michelle Obama's trip to Africa, again invoking black unemployment:
"Well, you know when you had 45 percent African-American teenage unemployment in January in the United States, it would have been nice for the president to have focused on bringing that hope and optimism to young Americans as well as young Africans."
And mediamatters.org also cites a story that ran last year in the National Review Online detailing Gingrich's unusual take on President Barack Obama's worldview:
Citing a recent Forbes article by Dinesh D'Souza, former House speaker Newt Gingrich tells National Review Online that President Obama may follow a "Kenyan, anti-colonial" worldview.
Gingrich says that D'Souza has made a "stunning insight" into Obama's behavior -- the "most profound insight I have read in the last six years about Barack Obama."
"What if [Obama] is so outside our comprehension, that only if you understand Kenyan, anti-colonial behavior, can you begin to piece together [his actions]?" Gingrich asks. "That is the most accurate, predictive model for his behavior."
"This is a person who is fundamentally out of touch with how the world works, who happened to have played a wonderful con, as a result of which he is now president," Gingrich tells us.
"I think he worked very hard at being a person who is normal, reasonable, moderate, bipartisan, transparent, accommodating -- none of which was true," Gingrich continues. "In the Alinksy tradition, he was being the person he needed to be in order to achieve the position he needed to achieve ... He was authentically dishonest."