A couple of weeks ago, I spent a day following Newt Gingrich around New Hampshire. After a radio interview in Concord, Gingrich had a lunchtime Guinness at the Barley House in Concord with Thomas Wilhelmsen, the CEO of a local hospital who first met Gingrich in the mid-1990s. They lapsed into wonky talk about ObamaCare and health insurance premiums. “Every hospital administrator, like Tom here, will tell you it’s unsustainable, it can’t be done,” Gingrich said, explaining why he wants to repeal the law.
So, I asked if he would advocate replacing it with Paul Ryan’s plan.
The former speaker sang Ryan’s praises for being a “brave” “man of ideas,” like Gingrich himself.
“But would you have voted for Ryan’s plan?” I pressed.
“Sure,” Gingrich replied.
“Do you think it would actually save the health care system?”
“No, I think it’s the first step,” Gingrich said. “You need an entirely new set of solutions.”
So, I was surprised to see Gingrich on Meet the Press Sunday morning telling David Gregory that the Ryan plan was too bold.
MR. GREGORY: But not what Paul Ryan is suggesting, which is completely changing Medicare.
REP. GINGRICH: I, I think that, I think, I think that that is too big a jump. I think what you want to have is a system where people voluntarily migrate to better outcomes, better solutions, better options, not one where you suddenly impose upon the–I don’t want to–I’m against Obamacare, which is imposing radical change, and I would be against a conservative imposing radical change.
How does one go from praising a plan as “the first step” to criticizing it as “too big a jump” and “radical change”?
Earlier in the interview, Gingrich was asked about the challenges to his candidacy. “I think it’s fair to say that I’m going to have–one of the tests on this campaign trail is going to be whether I have the discipline and the judgment to be President,” he said. “I think that’s a perfectly fair question.” He might want to start with a uniform position on Ryan’s budget.