Gingrich and Paul: A History of Bad Blood

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This is Texas Rep. Ron Paul’s third presidential bid, but never before has he gone negative the way he has in recent weeks on former House Speaker Newt Gingrich. Paul is spending $429,000 on television ads — a whopping amount, more than almost any other candidate — and much of that is in this 60-second buy in Iowa. The ad is brutal, highlighting Gingrich’s flip-flops and payments from Freddice Mac. When asked about it last week in New Hampshire, Paul said, “It’s nothing personal.” But, as for other politicians who’ve served under Gingrich’s leadership, it kind of is.

Paul has served three separate stints in Congress. One term from 1976 to 1977, followed by a second tour from 1979 to 1985. Then Paul was out of Congress for more than a decade. When he ran again in 1996, it was against party switcher Greg Laughlin. In the primary, Gingrich, then Speaker, and the National Republican Campaign Committee backed Laughlin, who lost in a landslide to Paul. As it is now, Paul’s campaign was fueled by a lot of national libertarian money.

The 1997-98 session marked the attempted coup against Gingrich, whose overreach would lead the party to lose five seats in 1998. That combined with his ethics woes, would force Gingrich from the House in 1999, complaining on his way out about “conservative whiners,” saying he wouldn’t lead a bunch of “cannibals” (ironically a usage coined by Jim Wright, the speaker Gingrich drummed out of office in 1990). One of those maverick, bomb-throwing conservatives? Ron Paul. So, is it any wonder why Paul is on a rampage to prove Gingrich’s “serial hypocrisy”?

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