Conservative talk radio star Mark Levin offered a passionate defense of Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich on his show Thursday.
Levin was upset at recent attacks against the former House speaker by GOP pundits on the Internet and by Republican politicians in various public forums.
“If this is what the conservative movement has come to, then count me out,” Levin said. “I am not a special pleader for Gingrich. Newt Gingrich and I aren’t friends. We aren’t even acquaintances.”
But Levin took issue with those who cite a TV interview from 1988 as evidence that Gingrich broke from former President Ronald Reagan. “Newt Gingrich didn’t trash Ronald Reagan,” Levin said. “He said going forward we need tactical changes from the Reagan era, not changes in principle, not that we shouldn’t promote Reagan.”
Levin then played an audio clip from the interview to prove his point. “Reaganism is a value system which carried 49 states last time [in the 1984 election],” Gingrich said. “It’s fairly inclusive, more than just a personality issue.”
Republicans must remember that Gingrich was the first GOP speaker of the House in almost 50 years, Levin said. “He was fighting Democrats to win the House of Representatives before most of the people trashing him on the Internet were old enough…before most of the commentators on TV were switching from Democrats to Republicans.”
It’s OK to criticize Gingrich, Levin said. “But don’t count me among those who are going to destroy the man,” he continued. “You can disagree with the man on substance, but don’t turn him into some Marxist, Reagan-hating mental case, because he’s not.”
Levin is particularly angry with New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, an aggressive Romney supporter. “I was appalled when the two-year governor of New Jersey, who has done absolutely zero for the conservative movement, gets on TV and regurgitates all the ethical bull crap thrown at Newt Gingrich when he was speaker of the House.”
Levin’s not too happy about recent criticism of Gingrich from former Sen. Bob Dole, either. “Bob Dole was part of the problem,” he said.
An underlying motive drives the GOP criticism of Gingrich, Levin said. “There’s an effort to clear the path for Romney. If [Rick] Santorum was considered a threat, they’d be pulling out quotes from him and turning him into a pretzel too.”
It’s self-destructive for Republicans to launch negative commercials about Gingrich rather than focusing on President Barack Obama, Levin said. What’s most important is to defeat the establishment.
He had some choice words for Gingrich’s presidential opponent, Mitt Romney. “What was Mitt Romney doing when Newt Gingrich was speaker of the House fighting Democrats? He was running against Ted Kennedy as a self-identified progressive.”
Levin was referring to Romney’s unsuccessful bid to take former Massachusetts Sen. Kennedy’s seat away from him in 1994.
“Newt Gingrich, if he does nothing else, did more for the conservative movement than virtually everyone today who’s criticizing him,” Levin said.
To be sure, Gingrich made some mistakes in the past, Levin acknowledged. “I make no excuses for his personal life, which was a mess,” he said.
“But he has found his faith now, he has found God. Why would we act like Marxist leftists ourselves, like a bunch of frenzied nut jobs trying to turn this man into something he’s not. We would not have taken back the House of Representatives but for Newt Gingrich.”
As for those criticizing Gingrich, “What…did they do to take back the House of Representatives?” Levin said.