Newt Gingrich was speaking at the University of Pennsylvania last night and afterward took questions from the students.
Here’s the first one:
“You adamantly oppose gay rights… but you’ve also been married three times and admitted to having an affair with your current wife while you were still married to your second. As a successful politician who’s considering running for president, who would set the bar for moral conduct and be the voice of the American people, how do you reconcile this hypocritical interpretation of the religious values that you so vigorously defend?”
“Gingrich, speaking to about 800 at a speaker series event on the west Philadelphia campus, tried to cut off the question.
“I’ll bet almost everybody here can gather the thrust of your question,” he said. “I appreciate the delicacy and generosity in the way it was framed. … I hope you feel better about yourself.
“I’ve had a life which, on occasion, has had problems,” he added. “I believe in a forgiving God, and the American people will have to decide whether that’s their primary concern. If the primary concern of the American people is my past, my candidacy would be irrelevant. If the primary concern of the American people is the future… that’s a debate I’ll be happy to have with your candidate or any other candidate if I decide to run.”
The way he constructed his answer — “I’ve had a life which … has had problems” — is interesting. It’s as if he’s trying to distance himself from his own conduct. Then again, nobody ever questioned Newt’s verbal agility. His moral agility is another matter, and while I don’t think he should be hounded about it everywhere he goes, I’m glad the question was asked.
– Jay Bookman
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