WASHINGTON, Sept. 18, 2010 -- Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich lashed out at Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius today at the Values Voter Summit, accusing her of "behaving exactly in the spirit of the Soviet tyranny."
What drew Gingrich's anger was a letter Sebelius sent earlier this month to a leading insurance industry group complaining that some companies were "falsely blaming premium increases" on health care reform legislation.
"When Secretary Sebelius said the other day she would punish insurance companies that told the truth about the cost of Obamacare, she was behaving exactly in the spirit of the Soviet tyranny," Gingrich said. "And if she's going to represent left-wing thought police about Obamacare, she should be forced to resign by the new Congress."
Gingrich said Republicans should defund her office if they sweep back into the majority in Congress after the November elections, as he hopes.
"This idea that we the people have to tolerate some bureaucrat being paid with our taxes to dictate free speech to us should end in January," Gingrich said.
The three-day conference, organized by the Family Research Council, opened Friday morning with appearances by some of the biggest names in conservative politics, including Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., and Reps. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn. and Rep. Mike Pence, R-Ind.
Pence was the winner of the summit's straw poll for their preferred presidential candidate in 2012, and was Pence was so popular among the voters that he topped the list of potential GOP vice presidential candidates, too.
"If he died he can replace himself," said Family Research Council president Tony Perkins, who announced the results of the non-scientific poll.
Pence received 24 percent of the vote, two percentage points ahead of former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, the winner of last year's Values Voter straw poll, who got 22 percent.