The Slatest

Newt Gingrich Will Pretty Much Say Anything to Be Trump’s VP

NAFTA Signing
President Clinton signs the NAFTA Implementation act in November 1993. Hey, who’s that standing over his left shoulder? Why, it’s Newt!

Animation by Slate. Photo by Cynthia Johnson/The Life Images Collection/Getty Images.

The current front-runners to join Donald Trump on the GOP ticket are rumored to be extremely disliked New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich. It’s already painfully clear that the former desperately wants to be Trump’s running mate. But just how badly does the latter want the job? This badly, via Politico:

Former Speaker Newt Gingrich… is dropping his decades-long support of free trade deals and picking up Trump’s strongly protectionist position. “I basically agree with Trump’s speech on trade,” Gingrich said in an email to POLITICO on Friday.

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Citing China’s taking of American intellectual property and the fact that the country is now in “a different era,” Gingrich said he had moved closer to the position of the presumptive Republican nominee.

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That’s quite the reversal! Gingrich has been a high-profile advocate for free trade for pretty much his entire political career. Gingrich played a key role in passing the North American Free Trade Agreement, which Trump now calls “the worst trade deal in history.” As minority whip in the House at the time, Gingrich rounded up the Republican votes Bill Clinton and his allies needed to pass the trade pact, and even dubbed his informal partnership with the Democratic president the “Clinton-Gingrich Pro-America Growth Team.”

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His love of trade deals didn’t stop after he left the House, either. In 2000, he was also a vocal cheerleader of permanent trade relations with China. “Rejecting the Chinese will serve only to alienate and further drive a wedge between American and Chinese societies,” he wrote. And in 2011, shortly before launching his failed presidential campaign, Gingrich even went as far as to praise NAFTA for creating jobs in Mexico. “Our big competitor is China and India,” Gingrich said then. “And I’d rather have jobs close to the United States than have jobs overseas in places like China and India.” That comment created a political headache for Gingrich then, but it would get him booed—and possibly chased—out of a Trump rally today. Fortunately for Newt, though, Trump’s fans, like the formerly pro-outsourcing candidate they love so much, appear to have a short memory.

Read more Slate coverage of the 2016 campaign.

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