Newt Gingrich doubles down on assertion that Palestinians are an ‘invented people’
Dec 12, 2011
by Jason Clayworth
DES MOINES, Iowa — White House hopeful Newt Gingrich weathered a pummeling by rivals who attacked the Republican frontrunner’s conservative credentials, marital infidelities and a provocative remark about Palestinians.
But the former House speaker coolly defended his most controversial views in a feisty debate Saturday night, including a recent remark calling Palestinians an “invented people,” while conceding that voters will have to decide whether he is fit to be president.
Republican debate: Frontrunner Gingrich keeps cool as rivals rip into him
Polls this week show Gingrich with a significant lead over Romney, who had been seen as having the party’s best chance of beating Obama in 2012 despite his inability to win over the party’s conservative base.
When slammed by his rivals for saying in an interview with the Jewish Television network (embedded at the bottom of this story) that the Palestinians were an “invented people,” Gingrich refused to back down.
“The Palestinian claim to a right of return is based on a historically false story,” he insisted, adding: “These people are terrorists. They teach terrorism in their schools.”
“I think sometimes it is helpful to have a president of the United States with the courage to tell the truth,” Gingrich said. “Just as it was when [Ronald] Reagan went around his entire national security apparatus to call the Soviet Union an evil empire.”
Gingrich currently has the support of 27% to 33% of likely Republican voters both nationally and in Iowa, while Romney’s support ranges from 16% to 23%.
Gingrich has also narrowed Romney’s robust edge in New Hampshire, which votes on January 10, and is ahead of him in South Carolina and Florida, which vote on January 21 and January 31, respectively.