Republican presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich has joined other conservatives in using high unemployment rates among African-Americans as a bid against President Obama, saying that the president has performed so poorly that blacks will vote Republican in 2012.
"No administration in modern times has failed younger blacks more than the Obama administration," said Gingrich during the keynote speech at the Maryland GOP's annual Red, White & Blue banquet in Baltimore.
Gingrich cited high unemployment rates among African-American teenagers and said that the black vote is ripe for the picking.
"Think of the social catastrophe of 41% of a community not being able to find a job. But we have to have the courage to walk into that neighborhood, to talk to that preacher, to visit that small business, to talk to that mother. And we have to have a convincing case that we actually know how to create jobs," he said, as reported on talkingpointsmemo.com. "The morning they believe that, you're going to see margins in percents you never dreamed of decide there's a better future," Gingrich said. "It takes courage, it takes hard work, it takes discipline and it's doable."
Gingrich stepped in it earlier by calling Obama "the food stamp president," but said that if elected he would be a "paycheck president." Gingrich, a former Speaker of the House, invoked the phrase again during Thursday's speech, adding a bit of nuance, suggesting that blacks might have a come-to-Jesus moment this election and distance themselves from the president.
"I will bet you there is not a single precinct in this state in which the majority will pick for their children food stamps over paychecks," he said.
Gingrich's remarks ring similar to those of Rep. Michele Bachmann, who is also running for the Republican presidential nomination and told a group at the Republican Leadership Conference in New Orleans last week that Obama "has failed the African-American community" for not doing more to bolster employment rates.
Gingrich has a long history of making what some have seen as patronizing, bigoted or outright racists remarks about minorities, women and the LGBT communities.
An article last year on mediamatters.org chronicled what it called "Newt Gingrich's history of bigoted remarks," from over the years.
Here's just a taste:
In August Gingrich compared the proposed Islamic center near Ground Zero to Nazis erecting a sign near the Holocaust Museum or a Japanese memorial near Pearl Harbor.
In 2007 he said that bilingual education teaches "the language of living in a ghetto."
And in 1995 he said that women were not fit for front line combat in the trenches because "they get infections."
One of the more offensive of Gingrich's comments came in a 1994 interview with The New York Times, in which he proposed that the government should abandon giving poor young mothers welfare and instead start building more orphanages.
And during a radio show earlier this week with host Laura Ingraham, Gingrich criticized First Lady Michelle Obama's trip to Africa, again invoking black unemployment:
"Well you know when you had 45% African-American teenage unemployment in January in the United States, it would have been nice for the president to have focused on bringing that hope and optimism to young Americans as well as young Africans."