Newt Gingrich and the Gay Voter

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Dec. 21 2011 11:37 AM

Newt Gingrich and the Gay Voter

The headline is "Gingrich to Gay Voter: Support Obama." The video (from CBS News) shows a little more than that. It shows Gingrich respectfully, if sort of pretentiously, extricating himself from a conversation with a gay Obama supporter.

David Weigel David Weigel

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

MAN: My question is, how do you plan to engage such a large community of people 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 help of gay Americans and those who support them?
GINGRICH: I think for those for 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 for 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.
MAN: So what if it is the biggest issue?
GINGRICH: Then I won't get their support.
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What would be a better answer? I suppose you could pour a little more honey (Gingrich's expression and darting eyes don't disguise how annoyed he is here), but this logically sound. And the questioner didn't give up.

MAN: And how do we engage if you're elected, though? Then, what, what does that mean?
GINGRICH: Well, you engage in every topic except that.
MAN: Except the one that's most important.
GINGRICH: Well, if that's the most topic important to you...
MAN: To many millions of people.

There's clearly no acceptable answer for this guy. There can't be. He's a single issue voter, on a boutique issue.*

GINGRICH: Well, if that's the most important to you, then you should be for Obama.
MAN: Okay.
GINGRICH: I think that's perfectly legitimate.
MAN: I am, but thank you.
GINGRICH: I think that's perfectly legitimate.

Clearly Gingrich gets the better of that round. The questioner didn't grind in on anything difficult, like whether Gingrich would remove judges who legalized gay marriage, or whether he'd reinstate Don't Ask, Don't Tell. Note to Iowans: Becoming a viral star doesn't mean you actually scored a point.

*Not a judgment of gay marriage, which I'm all for, just a note that is not a driving issue in 2012.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter.