Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-GA) has decided to run for the open seat of retiring Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R), the Washington Post reported Friday. Over a decade-plus in Washington, the self-described “pro-life OB-GYN” has become famous for amassing on of the most extreme voting records in Congress and a long series of gaffes.
Over six terms in Congress, Gingrey has:
1. Defended former Rep. Todd Akin (R-MO)’s infamous rape comments. Though Akin’s 2012 suggestion that victims of “legitimate rape” were unlikely to become pregnant drew virtually universal criticism, Gingrey boldly took the opposite position. Contradicting medical science, Gingrey said last month that Akin was “partially right,” as “all that adrenaline can cause you not to ovulate.”
2. Opposed President Obama’s stimulus — then claimed credit for it. Gingrey voted against the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, calling it a “non-stimulus stimulus plan” for spending “money that we do not have.” Despite his objection to the “trillion dollar debt” bill, he boasted of obtaining a $625,000 stimulus grant for Cedartown, Georgia’s Streetscape project. Gingrey’s hypocrisy was on full display when he personally presented a giant over-sized check to city officials for the “shovel-ready” project.
3. Denounced minority outreach — by Democratic campaigns. Though political candidates of both parties have long organized “Minority Group for Candidate” outreach efforts, Gingrey denounced the practice as “worse than sad.” Asked on a right-wing radio show about the African-Americans for Obama, he complained: “To use that and to go out and try to create divisiveness or one race against the other, it’s not just that, it’s one gender against the other, male versus female. I’m sick of all that and I think the American people are too.” He and his office said nothing when Mitt Romney launched Latino (Juntos Con Romney), women (Women for Mitt), and even African Americans (Black Leadership Council). More amazingly, his own 2008 campaign had a “Women for Gingrey” outreach group.
4. Pushed for wasteful military spending the Department of Defense doesn’t even want. Despite claims that he is “committed to finding ways to reduce” government programs that are “bloated” and “riddled with waste,” Gingrey demanded additional funding for the Marietta, Georgia-built F-22 stealth fighter. His claims that his effort wasn’t “just for the sake of home-cooking, but also for the sake of the country,” were contradicted by then-Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and bipartisan Congressional leaders, who agreed there was “no military requirement” for more F-22s. Gingrey’s financial disclosures indicated that he owned stock in the company that makes the planes.
5. Compared Democratic clean energy legislation to the North Korean and Iranian governments. When the House Democratic leadership proposed a rule for a clean energy bill that did not allow minority amendments, Gingrey ranted: “Americans are watching as from Iran to North Korea, the forces of darkness are attempting to silence the forces of democracy and freedom. The irony is on this day, the Democratic process and the nation’s economic freedom are under threat not by some rogue state, but in this very chamber in which we stand.”
6. Dismissed pre-existing medical conditions as nothing more than hang-nails. When a 2011 report by the Department of Health and Human Services estimated that up to 129 million Americans have some sort of pre-existing medical condition that could subject them to discrimination by insurance companies, Gingrey was incredulous. Though the report included people with a history of heart disease, cancer, asthma, high blood pressure, arthritis, and the like, he opined: “One hundred and twenty nine million people with pre-existing conditions! They would all have to have hang nails and fever blisters to have pre-existing conditions and if you believe those statistics, I’ve got a beach to sell you in Pennsylvania.”
7. After criticizing sexist radio host Rush Limbaugh for irresponsibly ginning up controversy, quickly begged for forgiveness.. In 2009, Gingrey accurately noted that Limbaugh and other conservative media personalities can “stand back and throw bricks” instead of offering “real leadership.” A day later, Gingrey went on Limbaugh’s show to offer a “very sincere” apology for his criticisms. “I clearly ended up putting my foot in my mouth on some of those comments,” he explained, “I regret those stupid comments.”
8. Blamed wounded Walter Reed veterans for the deplorable conditions at the hospital. After a 2007 Washington Post investigation revealed that many soldiers were recuperating from war wounds in moldy rooms infested by rats and cockroaches, Gingrey laregly dismissed the problem. He said at a House Armed Service Committee hearing: “It’s not a five-star hotel, make no mistake about it, but it’s not a flophouse. It’s not a dump. It’s not a dive. It needs some work, no question about it. I’m not making excuses, of course. And when I read the Washington Post report I was glad to know that those cockroaches were belly up. It suggested to me that at least someone was spraying for them, Mr. Chairman. And, of course, if you leave food around in a motel room or a dorm room at a college, you’re going to get some mice show up at some point in time.”
9. Demagogued Obamacare. Gingrey didn’t just oppose the Affordable Care Act — attacked it and spread misinformation about it. Though it was clearly constitutional, Gingrey called the Supreme Court’s ruling upholding it’s constitutionality “one of the worst decisions in Supreme Court history.” He called the law’s long-term care provisions “Dracula,” in need of “a stake through its heart.” Worst, he spread the false claim that the Independent Payment Advisory Board created by the health care law would drive a “wedge between physicians and their patients,” would be able to “operate in secret,” and could “accept unlimited donations of services or even property from lobbyists,” including “cash, meals, cars, vacations and even homes.”
10. Flipped on increasing tax revenues in 67 seconds. When asked by ThinkProgress in December about a possible deal that let tax cuts for the wealthy expire, Gingrey was initially open to the idea: “I hate to make a commitment on anything.” He didn’t want to rule anything out before consulting with constituents in his district. But when reminded that he had signed Grover Norquist’s ironclad oath never raise taxes, Gingrey abruptly shifted his position and agreed to abide by it, confessing: “I don’t take that pledge lightly, so I won’t say that I don’t feel bound by it.” In 2010, he liked his commitment to low taxes for the rich to “God’s covenant with Moses.”
In 2010, Gingrey acknowledged that he did not think the Republican Party would “ever be as big a tent organization as the Democratic Party.” Now, he will have to hope the Georgia GOP primary will be a small enough tent to embrace his right-of-right views and record.