With members of the mainstream media now hurling charges of using racially coded language against GOP presidential candidate Newt Gingrich, Big Government has uncovered a private memorandum written over three decades ago that offers a unique glimpse into Mr. Gingrich’s longstanding attitudes about race.
The private memo, dated July 1, 1980, was written by Mr. Gingrich on his official House of Representatives stationery and was sent to then-candidate Ronald Reagan’s campaign manager, Bill Casey, who would later become President Reagan’s CIA Director.
In the memo, Mr. Gingrich urges Governor Reagan’s campaign to reconsider its decision not to speak to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) Convention.
“This is a great opportunity to prove that a conservative Republican can speak to the hearts and pocketbooks of Black Americans,” Gingrich urged in the memo.
The memorandum goes on to explain that a decision not to speak at the NAACP convention would insult African American voters and be a “tragedy” for the nation:
Many middle class Black Americans who would vote for Reagan will be insulted by his non-attendance. I urge you to schedule the speech and talk about Kemp’s Inner City Jobs Bill, which Kilpatrick and George Will have both endorsed as acceptably conservative.
Failure to attend the NAACP convention will be a tragedy for Gov. Reagan and the country. Symbolic events are vital. Thank you for considering this.
The 1980 Gingrich memorandum aligns with comments the former Speaker has made more recently.
At a January 5, 2012 event in Plymouth, New Hampshire, Mr. Gingrich said that if he were invited to speak to the NAACP he would accept:
And so, I’m prepared, if the NAACP invites me, I’ll go to their convention to talk about why the African American community should demand pay checks and not be satisfied with food stamps. And I’ll go to them and I’ll explain a brand new social security opportunity for young people, which would be particularly good for African American males, because they’re the group that gets the smallest return on social security because they have the shortest life span. And under social security today, you don’t build up an estate, but if you’re allowed to build up an estate, if your tax money went into your savings and it was your money, if something happened to you, your family got you restate, the difference in transfer of wealth to the black community would be amazing.
Those and subsequent comments have sparked controversy among liberal critics who have taken issue with Mr. Gingrich’s contention that President Barack Obama has been America’s greatest “Food Stamp President,” a reference to Mr. Obama’s unprecedented expansion of the food stamp program (officially known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program).
Mr. Gingrich’s 1980 plea that the Reagan campaign should reach out to the NAACP and make inroads with black voters was just the first of many he has made to GOP candidates over many years.
As ABC News has reported, in his book Real Change, Mr. Gingrich criticized President George W. Bush’s “failure to address the NAACP,” which according to Gingrich, sent a “clear signal to the African American community that Republicans did not see them as worthy of engagement in dialogue.”
Also, in 2008, Mr. Gingrich criticized those 2008 Republican presidential candidates who declined to participate in a black voter forum hosted by Tavis Smiley.
Still, while it’s unlikely that Mr. Gingrich’s 1980 private memorandum urging the Reagan campaign to speak at the NAACP convention will change the minds of those determined to play the race card against him, the document reveals that Mr. Gingrich’s desire to restore the historic relationship between the Republican Party and black voters extends over three decades.