Gingrich Defends Tiffany & Co. Bill, Criticizes Obama for Position on Israel’s Borders

By Dschabner

May 22, 2011 12:30pm

ABC News’ Arlette Saenz reports:

For the first time, Newt Gingrich addressed reports regarding his wife’s financial disclosure forms, which revealed a debt ranging from $250,000 to $500,000 to premier jewelry company Tiffany & Co.

He did not disclose what he and his wife purchased at the jewelry store, arguing that he is “very frugal” and lives debt-free.

"We're private citizens," Gingrich said today on CBS’ “Face the Nation.” "I work very hard. We have a reasonably good income. I currently owe nothing except I owe one mortgage on a house that's a rental property in Wisconsin. Everything else is totally paid for. My home is paid for, my cars are paid for. We don't have a separate house. We don't do elaborate things."

“You’re running for president, you’re going to be the guy in charge of the Treasury Department and it just sticks out like a sore thumb,” host Bob Schieffer said.

But Gingrich said that in fact, his financial situation would be a good example for the government to follow.

“I’m the guy running for president who pays for all of his bills and after tax income and at no cost to the taxpayer, and who currently owes nothing except one rental property in Wisconsin," he said. "I am debt free. If the U.S government was debt free as I am, everybody in America would be celebrating.”

Earlier in the week, Gingrich refused to answer questions regarding the account, saying Tuesday on Fox News that he would not engage in “trivial pursuit.”

During his appearance on “Face the Nation,” Gingrich criticized President Obama’s call for Israel and Palestine to base negotiations on the 1967 borders, saying a “president who can’t control his own border probably shouldn’t lecture Israel about their border.”

“I think it is a disaster, I think it is extraordinarily dangerous, I think that it -– defining the 1967 border would be an act of suicide for Israel. They are totally non-defensible,” Gingrich said. “You have Hamas, which is a terrorist organization whose stated goal is the destruction of Israel. The idea that somehow we’re supposed to be neutral between Hamas and Israel is fundamentally flawed and I do not believe that we should have any pressure on Israel as long as Hamas’ policy is the destruction of Israel and as long as missiles are being fired into Israel and terrorists are preparing to try to kill Israelis.”

Gingrich called for a “fundamental reassessment of policy” in the Middle East.

Gingrich also faced questions on his labeling of Paul Ryan’s Medicare plan as “radical,” saying he should not have used such strong language and agrees with Ryan’s intent.

“I probably used unfortunate language on social engineering, but my point was really a larger one, that neither party could impose on the American people something that they are deeply opposed to,” he said.

The former speaker of the House said Ryan’s Medicare plan acts as a starting point for Republicans, but could be modified with input from the American people.

Schieffer asked Gingrich if his comments last week damaged him politically and financially, pointing to a report that a campaign fundraiser was cancelled following his appearance on "Meet the Press."  When asked if the report was true, Gingrich claimed to not know.

“Not that I know of, but to be honest I don’t know,” he said.

Gingrich praised Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, who decided not to enter the 2012 race.

“Mitch has his own reasons for not running, but he is one of the great reform governors in this country,” Gingrich said.

“He would have been a very formidable competitor," he said. "I mean I really thought he would be in the frontrunners from day one if he had decided to run.”

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