On Friday, Newt Gingrich tweeted in solidarity with the members of Congress who've demanded more investigation of Muslim Brotherhood influence in the United States. They were not to be mocked, wrote Gingrich. They were the "National Security Five."
On Sunday, Gingrich revised and extended his thoughts with a Politico op-ed. "When an orchestrated assault is launched on the right to ask questions," he wrote, "in an effort to stop members of Congress from even inquiring about a topic — you know the fix is in." At great length, with an appendix of sources, Gingrich raised the spectre of previous national security breeches that cost lives or intel.
And that was the issue that dominated Gingrich's Tuesday campaign stop in Virginia. He was there, technically, to drive home the Romney team's "we built this!" up-with-people message for small business owners. He took one question about that, and then a reporter asked about the op-ed, noting that "some people" had called it a "distraction." Way to wave the red flag.
"I think national security is never a distraction," said Gingrich. "National security is a fundamental challenge of our survival as a country. I didn't write the article as part of a campaign. I wrote the article because so [many] attacks had been heaped on the National Security Five for having had the courage to raise questions. I was simply trying to put in context why, in fact, we should be raising questions about the kind of influence which is shaping our foreign policy. There's a Weekly Standard article which just came out today about the Obama administration essentially erasing Jerusalem, and if you look at the kind of things they're doing, they're remarkably, I think, moving away from any kind of balanced policy. So I do think it's reasonable to ask the question: Who's giving the advice? Where's the advice coming from? And if you look at how our elites refuse to deal honestly -- as I wrote in my article, they refuse to deal honestly with somebody at Fort Hood who yells "Allahu Akbar," and is carrying a card in his pocket that says soldier of Allah, and kills 13 Americans, and they describe it as workplace violence. The car-bomber in Times Square, it was initially suggested by Mayor Bloomberg, maybe was somebody angry about Obamacare. It turned out to be a Pakistani who'd gotten American citizenship who clearly was doing this as part of a jihad. I think it's fair to ask, why are our elites so resistent to asking tough questions about the Muslim Brotherhood, and about radical jihadism in general?"
If Gingrich expected the Elites to engage him then and there, he was let down. Next question: Had the campaign talked to him about the op-ed?
"I didn't write the op-ed as part of the campaign," he said. "I wrote it as the former Speaker of the House, who was the longest-serving teacher to senior military, who served on the Committee of Eight that served on intelligence matters. If you go back to the 9/11 Commission Report, it said the only increase in intelligence funding in the 1990s was what they called the 'Gingrich plus-up.' So I think my interest in this subject is historic, and something that comes from being a former Speaker of the House."
What about Huma Abedin, though? "This is a person, you know," said a reporter -- a State Department official who'd been embarassed by members of Congress over her family's Muslim Brotherhood Associations.
"I think all they asked for was an investigation," said Gingrich, "and I can't imagine, given our track record over the last 70 years, that anybody is automatically exempt. It's not illegitimate to raise the question. It's not a question I raise in my piece."
Gingrich was done with the on-camera Q&A, but Politico's Ginger Gibson (a veteran Gingrich reporter from the trail) shouted follow-ups. "Do you think radicals have penetrated the U.S. government?"
"What?" asked Gingrich.
"You raise a lot of questions about influence. Do you think someone has, someone is influencing the government?"
"I think it's implicit in the op-ed," said Gingrich.