Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, a vocal backer of President Donald Trump, voiced some uncharacteristically critical words about the president Friday.
Appearing on “The Laura Ingraham Show” with guest host Raymond Arroyo, Gingrich argued that Trump is not helping himself or his agenda by slamming Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) over the chamber’s failure to repeal Obamacare.
“I don’t think it makes any sense,” he said.
Trump has called out McConnell in several tweets this week and on Thursday repeated his criticism in a pair of news conferences.
Gingrich noted that McConnell held together 49 out of 52 GOP senators. Conservative anger, he said, should be directed at the 10 “no” votes by Democratic senators from states that Trump carried in November.
“Any two of those Democrats out of 10 could have, in fact, carried the bill,” he said.
Trump’s frustration is understandable, Gingrich said, but he added that the president needs McConnell. He also suggested that Trump needs to share in the responsibility for the health care bill’s failure.
“You don’t pick a fight with a guy you need as a teammate,” he said. “And they’re not gonna replace McConnell.”
He added: “The president has this instinct to be aggressive when he’s unhappy. But he also doesn’t want to take responsibility … If things aren’t working, maybe he needs to take part of the ownership here.”
Gingrich said Trump could have developed his own health plan and sold it to the country. He said the president could have targeted, for instance, West Virginia, where Democratic senator Joe Manchin represents a state from which the president won 68 percent of the vote.
Instead, the former speaker said, Trump is lashing out at his own allies.
“It doesn’t do the president any good,” he said. “It doesn’t advance the game. It puts us in a situation, candidly, where we have great difficulty, not less difficulties. Why would you think that’s to your advantage?”
Even Trump’s pronouns reveal his mindset, Gingrich said.
“Notice the grammar — ‘he, he, he,'” said Gingrich. “It ought to be, ‘we, we, we.'”
Gingrich contrasted Trump’s approach to his handling of the nuclear crisis in North Korea. He said the president has an excellent national security team that is executing a well-developed strategy.
“I don’t see the same kind of strategic thinking domestically,” he said.
Gingrich said conservatives who revere the Constitution should not accept the notion that the president is the boss of the entire government and can simply bark orders at legislators. He also said he is mindful of Senate tradition and does not think Republican leaders should be so quick to eliminate the filibuster for legislation, as Trump has suggested.
But Gingrich said McConnell should not rule out that option, either.
“He may have to keep that in his hip pocket as a possibility.”
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