January 27, 2012 3:00 pm ET - by Julia Krieger
Former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay leveled heavy criticism against his former colleague Newt Gingrich in the wake of Monday's presidential debate in Florida, where Gingrich gave a bit of a revised historical recount of his exit from Congress. Eliding his ethical violations and well as an attempted 1997 coup by his own party, Gingrich said he stepped down as speaker because he "took responsibility" for the 1998 election results not being "as good as they should be."
DeLay remembers it a little differently, telling KTRH radio, "He had to step down because Republicans, conservative Republicans, wouldn't vote for him again as speaker."
DeLay isn't the only one coming out to say Gingrich is "not really a conservative" or that "when he was speaker, he was erratic, undisciplined." Here's a short list of Gingrich's former congressional colleagues who are voicing the same criticisms on his "erratic," "egotistical," and "confused" behavior.
Former Sen. Bob Dole (R-KS):
"I have not been critical of Newt Gingrich but it is now time to take a stand before it is too late. If Gingrich is the nominee it will have an adverse impact on Republican candidates running for county, state, and federal offices. Hardly anyone who served with Newt in Congress has endorsed him and that fact speaks for itself. He was a one-man-band who rarely took advice. It was his way or the highway.
Gingrich served as Speaker from 1995 to 1999 and had trouble within his own party. By 1997 a number of House Republican members wanted to throw him out as Speaker. But he hung on until after the 1998 elections when Newt could read the writing on the wall. His mounting ethics problems caused him to resign in early 1999. I know whereof I speak as I helped establish a line of credit of $150,000 to help Newt pay off the fine for his ethics violations. In the end, he paid the fine with money from other sources.
Gingrich had a new idea every minute and most of them were off the wall. He loved picking a fight with President Clinton because he knew this would get the attention of the press. This and a myriad of other specifics like shutting down the government helped to topple Gingrich in 1998.
Rep. Pete King (R-NY):
New York Rep. Pete King, a sharp Gingrich critic who is unaligned in the primary, points to the swath of seats Republicans lost in the late 1990s as evidence the former House speaker is "going to make it difficult" to keep the majority.
The veteran moderate congressman, who served during Gingrich's tenure as speaker, noted that he had been approached by several members who thanked him for taking a stand against Gingrich.
"There's just real concern," he said.
Former Rep. Susan Molinari (R-NY):
Molinari's dislike for Gingrich spans more than a decade. She served with him when he was House Speaker. She saw, in her words, how destructive and egotistical he is.
"Incredibly smart and pragmatic, he is at his best when he is building a team. He is at his worst and most self-destructive when he swells with his own sense of invulnerability and moves to the front and center," Molinari wrote in her book. "Representative Mom: Balancing Budgets, Bill and Baby in the U.S. Congress."
Former Sen. Jim Talent (R-MO):
"The speaker is running as a reliable and trusted conservative leader and what we're here to say with reluctance but clearly is that he's not a reliable and trusted conservative leader because he's not a reliable or trustworthy leader," Mr. Talent said. "On many occasions he also says outrageous things that come from nowhere and he has a tendency to say them at exactly the time when they most undermine the conservative agenda."
Sen. Talent, again:
Talent, the former Missouri senator and Romney adviser, as much as predicted that Gingrich would lose in a general election to President Barack Obama.
"If the nominee is Newt Gingrich, then the election is going to be about the Republican nominee, which is exactly what the Democrats want," Talent said, per Reid Epstein. "If they can make it about the Republican nominee, then the president is going to win."
When Gingrich was speaker, Talent said he was so erratic that "you would have to check the newspapers, this was before the internet, to see what the speaker had said that you have to clean up in your own district."
Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK):
"There's a lot of candidates out there I'm not inclined to be a supporter of Newt Gingrich's having served under him for four years and personally experiences [sic] his leadership," said Coburn said today on "Fox News Sunday."
Coburn served under then Speaker Gingrich after being elected to the House of Representatives in 1994 as part of the great Republican revival brought on by Gingrich.
"There's all types of leaders. Leaders that instill confidence, leaders that are somewhat abrupt and brisk. Leaders that have one standard for the people that they're leading and a different standard for themselves. I just found his leadership lacking," Coburn said.
This isn't the first time that Coburn has spoken critically of Gingrich's leadership style.
Coburn described the former speaker as someone who is brilliant but divisive while speaking on C-SPAN in March.
"We need someone who's eye is critical but is not harsh in their manner," he said.
Former Rep. Mickey Edwards (R-OK):
Edwards, who served in Congress from 1977 to 1993, is part of a roundtable discussion on a segment of the PBS show Need to Know.
According to the show, Edwards says the problems during his tenure began with former Democratic House Speaker Jim Wright's efforts to shut out Republican proposals.
"And that helped lead to the situation where Newt became the Republican whip."
Edwards says on the show that Gingrich, who is running for president, "made it far worse because it's one thing to say that we don't want the Democrats to be in charge because we have ideas of our own and we want to be able to advance those ideas. But, Democracy is about progress. And our process is based on the separate institutions _ and how those institutions work.
"What Newt brought to the table was destruction of the institutions. Destruction so that more and more people who followed his model would come to Washington thinking of themselves as Republicans, not as members of Congress."
Former Majority Leader Dick Armey (R-TX):
A chorus of boos, critical emails and outright dismissals came Monday after Gingrich claimed that the Republican plan to reform Medicare was "right-wing social engineering." [...]
Former Majority Leader Dick Armey (R-Texas), a Gingrich leadership partner turned rival, told POLITICO that it fits Gingrich's track record of being "confused and conflicted" on health care policy.
Copyright © 2010 Media Matters Action Network. All rights reserved.