Election Is About ‘Paychecks Versus Food Stamps,’ Gingrich Says

U.S. Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich rejected a suggestion that race played a role in his characterization of President Barack Obama during a May 13 speech as “the most successful food-stamp president in American history.”

“That’s bizarre, this kind of automatic reference to racism,” Gingrich said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” today. “The president of the United States has to be held accountable. And what I said is factually true.”

The number of Americans receiving food stamps rose to a record 44.199 million in February, up from 44.188 million in the previous month, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said this month. Gingrich’s comment about Obama being a “food-stamp president” came during a speech to the Georgia Republican Party’s convention in Macon, Georgia.

Obama “follows the same destructive political model that destroyed the city of Detroit,” Gingrich said today. “One of the central themes of this campaign is going to be paychecks versus food stamps,” he said.

Gingrich, who served as speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives from 1995 to 1999, declared his candidacy for president last week. In today’s interview with NBC he also criticized the Obama administration’s performance on creating jobs, saying the National Labor Relations Board was “breaking the law” to punish Boeing Co. and the Environmental Protection Agency is trying to control “the entire American economy by bureaucratic fiat.”

A complaint last month by the labor board that the airplane manufacturer retaliated against union workers in Washington state by adding a nonunion factory in South Carolina has drawn fire from Republicans, who say they will try to strip the labor board of funding and bar actions that interfere with “right-to-work” laws in states such as South Carolina.

Republicans are attacking the EPA as well, saying agency regulations will hurt the economy and destroy jobs. New and pending rules under scrutiny include limits on greenhouse gases blamed for climate change and a proposal to cut mercury and air toxins from coal-fired plants.

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