Here are some headlines on blogs and websites today concerning something Newt Gingrich said in Iowa:
and the most to-the-slanted-point:
Now here is the exchange that prompted those headlines:
Transcript, for those who can’t or don’t want to watch the video:
Questioner: My question is, is how do you plan to engage with such a large community of people who, on this one specific issue, do not support you? [They] may agree with you on the other parts of what you stand for — but how do you plan to engage and get the vote of gay Americans and those who support them?
Gingrich: I think for those to whom the only issue that really matters is the definition of marriage, I won’t get their support. I accept that that’s a reality. On the other hand, for those to whom it’s not the central issue in their life, if they care about job creation, if they care about national security, if they care about a better future for the country at large, then I think I’ll get their support.
Questioner: So what if it is the biggest issue?
Gingrich: Then I won’t get their support.
Questioner: How do we engage if you’re elected? Then what, what does that mean?
Gingrich: Well then you engage in every topic except that.
Questioner: Except it’s most important (some crosstalk).
Gingrich: Well, if that’s most important to you then you should be for [Barack] Obama.
Questioner: I am, thank you.
Gingrich: It’s perfectly legitimate. I think that’s perfectly legitimate.
A couple of points:
First, “Gingrich doesn’t want the gay vote,” and variations thereof, are misleading. What Gingrich clearly said is that he doesn’t think he deserves or will get the vote of those Americans for whom gay marriage is the No. 1 issue in this election. This is news?
Second, it’s not entirely clear to me that there are as many people who fall into this group — i.e., gay marriage is their most important issue — as the questioner in the video lets on. Gallup polling over the past few months suggests less than 1 percent of respondents think “gay rights issues” — which presumably comprise more than just gay marriage — are atop the list of problems facing the country. Given that an estimated 3 percent to 4 percent of Americans self-identify as gay, you would think the issue would register on such a poll if a substantial proportion of this population felt it was the most important issue that made them single-issue voters, as opposed to an important issue they’ll weigh along with other important issues. As with other sub-populations, gay Americans are affected by most of the same problems as everyone else. (I acknowledge there may be a difference between “most important issue facing the country” and “most important issue to me,” but this was the best polling I could find on the topic. Feel free to share another poll result in the comments thread.)
What these reports do accomplish, however, is further branding one candidate — and, by obvious extension, his party — as being “anti” a whole group of Americans. And it’s done by some of the same people who will, within days if not hours, wring their hands about the polarization of Americans politics.
– By Kyle Wingfield