A quotation in the New Hampshire Union Leader attributed to “a senior Gingrich aide” actually came from Newt Gingrich himself, the Republican primary candidate’s spokesman R.C. Hammond revealed to New York Times today.
In the article, Gingrich’s camp responded to the claim, from Mitt Romney supporter and former George W. Bush aide John H. Sununu, that Mr. Gingrich had been a tax deal turncoat in the early ’90s.
The “senior Gingrich aide” rebutted with a suspiciously specific description of the emotional roller coaster Mr. Gingrich experienced about the budget agreement, from the “thrill” of Bush’s no new taxes pledge to the “shock” of his relenting under pressure from Democrats. It included detailed descriptions of meetings:
“The Gingrich aide said that the morning the budget agreement was to be announced and the key players gathered in the Cabinet room of the White House, ‘Gingrich stayed with the Bush 1988 pledge of no new taxes and said, with sadness, that he could not agree to go along with the tax increase. He was the only person in the room to say that.’
‘When all the rest of them trooped into the Rose Garden, Gingrich walked out the front door,’ the aide recalled.”
When Politico called Union Leader for a response, publisher Joe McQuaid laid into reporter Dylan Byers for inquiring about an anonymous source.
“Here’s what I’m saying,” Mr. McQuaid told Politico, “I’m saying that I don’t know about POLITICO, or the New York Times, but the Union Leader does not disclose it’s sources. You got that?”
(The Huffington Post pointed out that the Union Leader is the largest paper in New Hampshire, site of the first primary race, and it endorsed Mr. Gingrich.)
According to the Times piece, Mr. Gingrich did not want to be identified because he didn’t want to seem combative toward Governor Romney, although he has apparently since changed his mind on that front too.
It gets more bizarre: Mr. Gingrich’s model for press strategy was none other than the tax-loving Franklin D. Roosevelt.
“Mr. Gingrich recently requested transcripts of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s press conferences to study his ability to influence his coverage,” the Times wrote. “Reporters often quoted President Roosevelt without identifying him.”