Newt Gingrich defends – and extends – swipe at congressional staffers

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich is not backing away from a swipe he took at young congressional staffers during a speech Wednesday. In fact, at a Monitor-sponsored breakfast for reporters Thursday, he broadened the attack to include older staffers.

By , Staff writer

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    Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (right) appeared at a Monitor-sponsored breakfast for reporters Thursday at the St. Regis Hotel in Washington.
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Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich is not backing away from a swipe he took at young congressional staffers during a speech Wednesday to the Atlanta Press Club.

In fact, at a Monitor-sponsored breakfast for reporters Thursday, Mr Gingrich broadened the attack to include older staffers.

As reported by CNN, Gingrich took out after young Hill staffers in a speech that explained why he thought “no one was smart enough” to write a comprehensive healthcare bill. Gingrich favors an incremental approach to healthcare reform.

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"Of course it's the nature of the modern Congress, which hires lots of nice young staffers who have never had a real job, who spent their entire life being arrogant to visitors from back home, who end up thinking they know a lot because they stay up until 3 o'clock working on a word processor, and who write legislation as though they have some contact with reality," Gingrich told the Atlanta audience, eliciting laughter according to the CNN report.

The former speaker’s comments triggered a backlash on Capitol Hill. As Politico reported, it is not just softhearted liberal Democrats who speak lovingly about their staffs. The normally taciturn Mitch McConnell, Senate minority leader, recently cried on the Senate floor bidding farewell to a longtime chief of staff who was leaving for the private sector.

But at Thursday's Monitor breakfast, Gingrich was not backing down. When asked if he wanted to revise and extend his Atlanta remarks, a standard congressional prerogative, Gingrich said, “I am happy to stay with that.” And as a reporter read him the comments from his Atlanta speech about young staffers, Gingrich laughingly interjected, “They grow up to be older staffers who are even more arrogant.” He added, “Have you gone up as a supplicant and watched these people? It is outrageous.”

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