Newt Gingrich opened up to ABC News Thursday afternoon about his views on child labor, his wife, the individual mandate and other key hot topics. And despite his deviation from the conservative base on some of these issues, he exuded confidence that he would be the 2012 Republican nominee.
Individual Mandate: Though he advocated “personal responsibility” and a mandate for years prior to his presidential run, Gingrich said his views have evolved over time.
“There was a time — there was a time in opposition to Hillary (Clinton), in Hillarycare, that the Heritage Foundation and lots of folks supported it,” he said. “The more we looked at it the clearer it became that it would lead the politicians to redesign the entire health care system in order to define the mandate. And that’s why I began looking for alternatives.”
The former House Speaker acknowledged that finding a solution to curb ballooning health care costs is not easy.
“Trying to find a freedom-oriented but responsibility-oriented answer to the question of health cost is a very big challenge,” he said.
Definition of Life: Breaking from groups that believe human life begins at the moment an egg is fertilized — also the position of the Catholic Church, of which he is a member — Gingrich told ABC News he believes life begins at implantation.
“I think that if you take a position when a woman has fertilized egg and that’s been successfully implanted that now you’re dealing with life, because otherwise you’re going to open up an extraordinary range of very difficult questions,” he said
He added that he doesn’t support embryonic stem cell research, even though he once advocated it.
“I think if you can get embryonic stem cells, for example, from placental blood, if you can get it in ways that do not involve the loss of a life that’s a perfectly legitimate avenue of approach,” he said. “What I reject is the idea that we’re going to take one life for the purpose of doing research for other purposes.”
Child Labor: The former Speaker received some flak recently for suggesting that school janitors should be replaced by children in poor neighborhoods. When asked about concern among some conservatives about such off-the-cuff remarks, Gingrich defended his stance.
“Young children who are poor ought to learn how to go to work,” he said. “What I’ve said is, for example, it would be great if inner city schools and poor neighborhood schools actually hired the children to do things. Some of the things they could do is work in the library, work in the front office. Some of them frankly, could be janitorial.”
“Newt Gingrich wants inner city kids to learn how to have a job at which they earn some money as the first step in the rung in the ladder up,” he later added.
Herman Cain: Gingrich said Cain, his embattled opponent dogged by reports of an extramarital affair and sexual harassment charges, should think “prayerfully” about his next move.
“My advice to Herman, having lived through a lot of different experiences, is he has to stop and open up his heart and he has to think very prayerfully about what he owes his own family and what he owes his own future,” Gingrich said. “I don’t think any of the rest of us can tell him what he ought to do and I think he needs to deal with it and I don’t have any comment on Herman beyond that until he decides what he’s going to do.”
Skeletons in his Closet: Gingrich has a long list of political and personal baggage that has been attacked by his opponents. But are there any more skeletons in his closets that could come up later?
“Not that I know of,” he told ABC.
Callista Gingrich: If she were to become first lady, Gingrich said his wife Callisa would be a “cross between Nancy Reagan and Laura Bush with just a slight bit of Jackie Kennedy tossed in.”
Gingrich spoke candidly about his wife’s passion for music.
‘I’m Going to be the Nominee’: A very confident Gingrich asserted to ABC News that he will be the Republican presidential nominee.
“I’m going to be the nominee,” the former Speaker told ABC News. “It’s very hard not to look at the recent polls and think that the odds are very high I’m going to be the nominee.”