Gingrich on Scalise: Rev. Wright, Robert Byrd And Hugo Black Got Pass On Racist Ties

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BOB SCHIEFFER, FACE THE NATION: Let me ask you about something going on here in Washington. And this is this situation that's grown up around Congressman Steve Scalise. He's part of the Republican leadership in the House.

It turns out that, what is it, 12 years ago, he made a speech to a white supremacy group. Some Democrats saying he ought to leave. Speaker Boehner says he's standing with him. I don't think that this helps the Republican case in any way, but what about Congressman Scalise? What -- is this a serious thing?

NEWT GINGRICH: Let me say, first of all, I admire your professionalism. You got through that whole thing without breaking up.

The fact is, you have a president who for years went to a church whose pastor said stunningly hateful things about Americans. The president explains, he didn't hear any of them. OK? And we all gave him a pass. He gave a great speech in Philadelphia as a candidate. We said, OK, we got it.

Now, he went to that church a long time and listened to Reverend Wright a long time. You have other cases. You had Bob Byrd, who was the majority leader, who was a Klan leader. You had Hugo Black, who was a justice who was a Klan leader, but they were Democrats. So being in the Klan was OK.

The fact is, the only African-American member of the Louisiana delegation, a Democrat, says that Steve Scalise does not have a racist bone in his body. Mia Love, the brand-new first Republican African- American woman in Congress, said he has been extraordinarily helpful to her.

Scalise is a deeply committed Catholic who condemns hate organizations and, to the best of our knowledge, gave a speech on taxes 12 years ago. Now, for a 12-year-old speech to be blown up into a national story I think is frankly one more example of a one-sided view of reality.

SCHIEFFER: Well, what does this do just -- let's just talk about the politics side of it.

Here you have -- you're coming up on the 2016 race. Aren't Republicans going to have to find some way to appeal to Hispanics and to African-Americans? And what is that way? Because I think you would agree, right now, if you just look at it, it doesn't look like they're doing very much.

GINGRICH: Well, first of all, Steve Scalise is the whip.

Helps pass criminal justice reform, if he helps organize the kind of hearings that Congressman Cummings has called for, if we see action on real things that affect real lives, nobody is going to say, but didn't you 12 years ago stupidly schedule a group?

Second, Kasich in Ohio got 26 percent of the African-American vote and was endorsed by the biggest black newspaper. Deal in Georgia, Governor Deal, doubled his share of the African-American vote, driven in part by criminal justice reform.

Senator Cornyn carried the Latino vote in Texas, and the gubernatorial candidate got I think 44 percent. And in Colorado, the Republican candidate tied the Democratic incumbent 48-48 with Latinos. I believe we can have very different election in '16. I don't think demography is destiny. I think leadership is.

And the Republican Party, which is solving problems, is going to do very well.

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