We added a video compilation below.
This morning, GOP presidential candidate and former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich (R-GA) spoke at a town hall in Derry, New Hampshire. After concluding his prepared remarks — in which he criticized the Affordable Care Act and laid out a series of conservative health care alternatives — Gingrich began shaking hands with attendees. Before he could get very far, however, one man in the back asked if Gingrich would be taking questions from the audience. Gingrich agreed, saying he would speak to the people and also address the press after the event. “I’ll chat with the news media individually,” Gingrich promised.
We asked Gingrich about the results of the NY-26 race and the fact that “right-wing social engineering” seemed to backfire against Republicans. Gingrich tried to deny that Medicare had anything to do with the results:
GINGRICH: Well, I think that the Tea Party candidate was a significant problem. It’s one of the things we have to worry about all of next year. I also think the Democrats won a special election early in 2010 and relaxed and said, “see?” and then they got wiped out. So I wouldn’t over-read one special election…
VOLSKY: You don’t think it was a repudiation of Ryan’s Medicare…?
GINGRICH: No, I think there are a lot of different factors. The biggest single factor was the Tea Party candidate who split the conservative vote.
But after taking just four to five questions — include one about Gingrich’s debt from Tiffany’s — from the small crowd gathered before him, Gingrich relented on his press conference promise, and his campaign aide physically placed himself between the media and the candidate. ThinkProgress managed to get a few questions in as did another reporter, but as the former Speaker made his way up a flight of stairs, his aide, R.C. Hammond, blocked access to the media, denying that Gingrich had promised to speak to the press:
VOLSKY: He said you were going to do a media –
HAMMOND: He’s not answering questions.
VOLSKY: So you’re not doing it anymore?
HAMMOND: He’s answering people’s questions.
VOLSKY: Well, he also talked about a media thing after.
HAMMOND: You’re not understanding?
“He said I’ll answer people’s questions,” Hammond insisted repeatedly, as other reporters pushed to speak with Gingrich. “No more questions!” he exclaimed.
Since unveiling the GOP budget, Republicans have been dodging the media, blocking reporters and citizen journalists from town halls and public appearances.
Contrary to Gingrich’s assertions that the election wasn’t about Medicare, both the polls and Paul Ryan himself agreed before the election that Medicare was the dominant issue:
A recent Siena poll indicated that Medicare was the top issue for voters in the district, and Ryan himself raised at least $5,000 for Corwin, stating in an “urgent” email to supporters that Jane Corwin “is one of those people” who backs his goals. His Prosperity Project PAC even re-posted a Washington Post article with the headline: “N.Y. Race is a Referendum on GOP Medicare Plan.”
,Nate Silver of the New York Times debunks the GOP talking point that the Tea Party candidate, Jack Davis, threw the election to Democrat Kathy Hochul:
Nor is it likely that Ms. Corwin would in fact have won all of Mr. Davis’s votes. He ran in the district as a Democrat in 2006, and polls suggested that his voters leaned Republican by roughly a 2-1 margin, but not more than that. If you had split his vote 2-1 in favor of Ms. Corwin, the results would have been Ms. Hochul 51 percent, and Ms. Corwin 48 percent.