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Newt Gingrich Won’t Answer Questions About His Six-Figure Tiffany Bills

Reported by Ellen - May 18, 2011 -

On Tuesday (5/17/11), Politico reported that Newt Gingrich owed as much as $500,000 to Tiffany’s in 2005 and 2006 as part of a revolving charge account. Politico also noted, "When asked by POLITICO whether Gingrich has settled this debt, and why he owed between a quarter-million and a half-million dollars to a jeweler, Rick Tyler, Gingrich’s spokesman, declined to comment." When asked about the debt in an interview with Greta Van Susteren on On The Record later that night, Gingrich refused to discuss it.

Most of the interview was taken up with Gingrich’s attempts to rehabilitate himself after the Republican firestorm that has erupted since Sunday when Gingrich said on Meet The Press that the Republican plan to get rid of revamp Medicare is “right-wing social engineering.” If you can understand Gingrich’s “explanation” about what he really meant or his explanation for having supported an individual mandate for health care in 1993, please elucidate for me. Judging from Van Susteren’s comments, she wasn’t getting it either.

At around 14:35 in the video, Van Susteren apologetically brought up Tiffany’s. “I debated whether to ask you this question… There’s a report today – and I’m not sure the relevance, maybe I’ll figure it out later, but everyone’s sort of, you know, seizing upon it - that you had a bill at Tiffany’s in the range from $250-500,000… What’s with the bill… and has it been paid?” Van Susteren asked.

Gingrich responded condescendingly, “Now, later on, I want you to watch this particular segment, Greta, and notice that I talked about jobs (actually, he didn’t much), I talked about the price of gasoline (not much about that, either), I talked about all sorts of real problems for real Americans… and my answer to you is, I’m not commenting on stuff like that. I am perfectly happy to talk about what we need to do for America and what we need to do to help Americans but I frankly don’t want to play the gotcha games in Washington and I’m just not gonna participate.”

He later said that when you run for president, “Everything you ever did, every person you ever knew – name it – sooner or later somebody, somewhere is gonna run across it – and it’ll show up. And I’ve just decided if it doesn’t relate to a better future for America, if it doesn’t relate to helping the American people, if it doesn’t relate to solving our problems, from here on out, my answer’s gonna be, ‘I’m not commenting on it,’ and then people can decide. If you want to play trivial pursuit, that’s fine, but I’m not gonna play trivial pursuit. I’m gonna try to help this country get back on track.”

Of course, a $250,00-500,000 debt to Tiffany’s is not exactly the same as the name of some obscure old associate – especially at a time when Republicans like Gingrich are campaigning on the evils of deficit spending. Gingrich can try to wave off the questions as he nobly restricts his focus to helping America and Americans. But something tells me that will be easier said than done.



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