Now that House Republicans are insisting their vote against the bailout yesterday had nothing to do with Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s supposedly “partisan” speech, some are wondering what in fact turned at least 10 Republican votes Blunt thought he had against the bill.
NBC’s Andrea Mitchell reported this morning that conservatives may have been taking their marching orders from former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who “was whipping against this up until the last minute” — despite issuing a statement supporting the bill as the vote was taking place:
MITCHELL: I’m told reliably by leading Republicans who are close to him, he was whipping against this up until the last minute when he issued that face-saving statement. Newt Gingrich was telling people in the strongest possible language that this was a terrible deal, not only that it was a terrible deal, that it was a disaster, it was the end of democracy as we know it, it was socialism. And then at the last minute comes out with a statement when the vote is already in place.
Reacting to the news, NBC’s Mike Barnicle said he had been told by congressional conservatives that the move was “the opening salvo of Newt Gingrich’s presidential campaign four years hence.” Speaking at the National Press Club today, Gingrich denied Mitchell’s claim, saying MSNBC is wrong and probably “wrong deliberately” because its a “stunningly dishonest network.” “I was actually reluctantly trying to help it get through,” he said.
Even throughout yesterday, Gingrich’s position was nearly impossible to pin down. On Glenn Beck’s radio show, he admitted, “I’m not sure if I were in the Congress I could vote against it” while also declaring that Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson “should be fired” and that the bailout plan “is still a bad bill.” On Fox News last night, he seemed to praise the House’s rejection of the bill: “The vote today indicated that even when they’d worked for five days to try to improve what was really a pretty terrible original plan that [Paulson] sent up, it still couldn’t get a majority in the House.”
Apparently, Gingrich was against the bailout before he was for it — before he was against it again.