Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich was working aggressively behind the scenes to defeat the Wall Street rescue plan minutes before he himself released a public statement in support of the package, NBC's Andrea Mitchell reported on Tuesday.
Gingrich was whipping up votes for the opposition, Mitchell said, apparently without the knowledge of the current GOP leader, John Boehner, who was responsible for recruiting enough support from his caucus to help ensure the bill's passage. Ultimately, the GOP was only able to rally roughly a third of its members.
"Newt Gingrich," she said on MSNBC, "I am told reliably by leading Republicans who are close to him, he was whipping against this up until the last minute, when he issued that face-saving statement. Newt Gingrich was telling people in the strongest possible language that this was a terrible deal, not only that it was a terrible deal, it was a disaster, it was the end of democracy as we know, it was socialism -- and then at the last minute [he] comes out with a statement when the vote is already in place."
Indeed, as Mitchell noted, shortly before the bill's failure, Gingrich "reluctantly" came out in favor of its passage: "Therefore, while I am discouraged at the final collapse of the Bush Administration, and frustrated by the Democrats' passion for the taxpayer's money, I would reluctantly and sadly vote for the bailout were I still in office."
The rest of the set of Morning Joe had some interesting takes on the news nugget. Joe Scarborough called Gingrich's backstabbing of John Boehner "undercutting his own."
Mike Barnicle offered his own bit of reportorial insight: "Andrea, I could hug you for saying that, because I was told last night by two or they members of Congress that this was the opening salvo of Newt Gingrich's presidential campaign four years hence."
And Mika Brzezinski summed it up succinctly: "Talk about a crap sandwich," a reference to how Boehner described the bailout bill.