Newt Gingrich must know he’s on to something. After being criticized as racist for calling Barack Obama the “food stamp President,” Gingrich kept on calling him that Saturday night after winning the South Carolina primary.
Gingrich said that though some of the elite media don’t like to hear it, “President Obama is the most effective food stamp President in American history.”
And he repeated the “food stamp” term two more times, including when he said: “If you want your children to have a life of dependency and food stamps, you have a candidate. It’s Barack Obama.”
Gingrich understands that this coded language helped him enormously in South Carolina, so he’s not discarding it. He’s doubling down on it.
And he’s throwing in hints of anti-Semitism along the way.
“The centerpiece of this campaign is American exceptionalism versus the radicalism of Saul Alinsky,” he said. And he repeated Saul Alinsky’s name two more times.
Now, not many people listening to that speech knew who Saul Alinsky was. (He was a community organizer who wrote several books, including Rules for Radicals.) But what they could easily figure out was that he’s some Jewish guy, someone not “American” like they are.
Gingrich was all about rightwing populism in his speech Saturday. He railed against “the media,” saying they “for half a century” have been trying “to force us to quit being American.”
He railed against “elites in New York and Washington.”
These terms—“the media,” “elites,” and “New York”—connote “Jews” to many people.
And juxtaposing them with “Americans” is one of the oldest anti- Semitic canards in the book.
Gingrich is playing with fire here. But his scorched earth tactic worked in South Carolina, and it may work elsewhere as he tries to whip up hysteria among some susceptible white, Christian Americans. He is clearly campaigning now as their champion.
If you liked this story by Matthew Rothschild, the editor of The Progressive magazine, check out his story “Gingrich Plays the Race Card in S.C. Debate."
Follow Matthew Rothschild @mattrothschild on Twitter