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One week later, Gingrich says he and Ryan agree on Medicare approach

May 22, 2011|By Michael A. Memoli | Washington Bureau
  • Newt Gingrich, left, said on "Face the Nation" that he used "unfortunate language" in describing the Medicare privatization plan of Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.). Ryan, right, on "Meet the Press," said, "We've got to get beyond this."
Newt Gingrich, left, said on "Face the Nation" that he used "unfortunate… (CBS / NBC )

Reporting from Washington   — Newt Gingrich tried again Sunday to clarify his views on the controversial plan by House Republicans to overhaul and eventually privatize Medicare, saying he and Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) are on the same page.

The former House Speaker, appearing on CBS' "Face The Nation," said he used "unfortunate language" in describing the Ryan-authored plan as "right-wing social engineering" the week before on NBC's "Meet The Press." His larger point, he said, was that the GOP needed to make their case to the American people before moving forward with their plan.

"This is the beginning of a profound conversation about a fiscal crisis that is going to crush this country," Gingrich said.  "I don’t think anybody including Paul Ryan believes that you come out and say, 'Take it or leave it.' This is the beginning of a conversation. He and I are on the same side in that conversation. Obama’s on the opposite side of the conversation."

Ryan, chairman of the House Budget Committee, earlier in the week said of Gingrich's comments that with friends like him, "who needs the left." Appearing on this Sunday's "Meet The Press," Ryan called Gingrich's comments, which the former speaker has retracted, "a gross mischaracterization" of his plan.

"We've got to get beyond this, and we've got to get on to a serious conversation about what it takes to fix the fiscal problems in this country," he said.

Gingrich faced withering criticism from conservatives over his remarks all week, his first full week as a declared presidential candidate. But the Georgia Republican argued that the uproar was contained in Washington and said he received a positive reception during an extended swing through Iowa.

"They were not paying attention to the noise level in Washington, D.C.," he said. "The campaign looked very, very alive if you were in Iowa."

michael.memoli@latimes.com

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