Nightly News | May 17, 2011
BRIAN WILLIAMS, anchor: To presidential politics now. And as our friends at our NBC News political unit reminded us today, it was just two days ago on " Meet the Press " with David Gregory that former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich said the central test he's going to face in the 2012 campaign will be whether or not he has the discipline and the judgment to be president. Well, in just the last 48 hours it's been a rough go, a tough rollout for Mr. Gingrich , and some conservatives have already said he's failing his own test. NBC 's Andrea Mitchell with us tonight from our DC newsroom with more on this story. Andrea , good evening.
ANDREA MITCHELL reporting: Good evening, Brian . Newt Gingrich wanted to kick off his presidential campaign with a big splash . Now it looks as though the only one getting drenched is the candidate himself.
Offscreen Voice: Are you announcing right now for us?
MITCHELL: He announced less than a week ago on Twitter and Facebook . No chance for gaffes.
Former Representative NEWT GINGRICH: I'm Newt Gingrich , and I'm announcing my candidacy for president of the United States .
MITCHELL: But on " Meet the Press ," his first big interview, Gingrich sided with liberals, slamming fellow Republican Paul Ryan 's plan to cut Medicare costs.
Mr. GINGRICH: I don't think right-wing social engineering is any more desirable than left-wing social engineering . I don't think imposing radical change from the right or the left is a very good way for a free society to operate.
MITCHELL: Ryan shot back.
Representative PAUL RYAN: With allies like that, who needs the left?
MITCHELL: And now fellow conservatives are taking numbers to attack Gingrich .
Mr. RUSH LIMBAUGH: He cuts Paul Ryan off at the knees. It supports the Obama administration.
MITCHELL: Headlining an editorial, " Gingrich to House GOP : Drop Dead," The Wall Street Journal wrote today, "Mr. Gingrich chose to throw his former allies in the GOP House not so much under the bus as off the Grand Canyon rim." The former speaker was even confronted by one critic in Iowa .
Unidentified Man: What you just did to Paul Ryan is unforgivable.
Mr. GINGRICH: I didn't do anything to Paul Ryan .
Man: Yes, you did. You undercut him.
Mr. GINGRICH: I said...
Man: You're an embarrassment to our party.
Mr. GINGRICH: Well, I'm sorry you feel that way.
Man: Why don't you get out before you make a bigger fool of yourself?
Mr. GINGRICH: Right. I'm sorry. I'm sorry you feel that way.
Mr. STUART ROTHENBERG (Political Analyst): This is one of those cases where a candidacy is almost imploding before the candidate leaves the starting gate.
MITCHELL: And now there's this: Politico has dug up these financial records showing that Gingrich owed Tiffany's hundreds of thousands of dollars for unpaid bills back in 2005 and 2006 , a lot of debt to a high-end jeweler. Gingrich 's spokesman tonight had no comment. Brian :
WILLIAMS: All right, Andrea Mitchell in Washington tonight. Andrea , thanks.