Newt Gingrich is in the midst of the worst Presidential campaign rollout in history. He criticized the singature, litmus-test policy of the Republican Party, the Paul Ryan budget, one that Republicans in the House voted for 235-4. He generated such a backlash that he had to personally apologize to Paul Ryan. He received a nasty constituent response I don’t think Pol Pot ever received. He asserted that he wasn’t ready for the sharp questioning of David Gregory – this from a man who has appeared on Meet the Press 35 times. And the coup de grace came last night on Greta Van Susteren.

I want to make sure every House Republican is protected from some kind of dishonest Democratic ad. So let me say on the record, any ad which quotes what I said on Sunday is a falsehood. Because I have said publicly those words were inaccurate and unfortunate and I’m prepared to stand up… When I make a mistake — and I’m going to on occassion — I want to share with the American people “that was a mistake” because that way we can have an honest conversation.

Any ad, by the way, which quotes what I just quoted is a falsehood of a falsehood. Falsehood.

This isn’t the first time Newt has complained about political ads taking his words out of context. Heck, this isn’t the first time Newt has complained about political ads taking his words about Medicare out of context. In 1996, Gingrich gave a speech where he said, much like on Meet the Press, that seniors should be given an option of a private health insurance or Medicare, and that he believed that, as a result, Medicare would “wither on the vine” because seniors would choose to abandon it. Democrats pounced and ran ads that quoted Gingrich’s “wither on the vine” comment. Gingrich, thin-skinned as ever, went ballistic. But Democrats were quoting him accurately then. And they would be quoting him accurately now. Gingrich wants to degrade Medicare by offering privatization, narrowing the risk pool, and encouraging the destruction of the government-run program. And despite his protestations, Gingrich still believes this.

But this effort to put a fence around comments before the ads get cut is a new wrinkle.

All I’ll say is this: when your political party is so desperate for a viable candidate that they’re begging George W. Bush’s budget director to come in and be the savior, you have a problem.

David Dayen

David Dayen