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Political Digest: Gingrich Takes Back 'Racist' Comment About Sotomayor

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Thursday, June 4, 2009

COURT NOMINEE

Gingrich Retracts 'Racist' Charge

Former House speaker Newt Gingrich on Wednesday retracted his Twitter comment calling President Obama's Supreme Court nominee, Judge Sonia Sotomayor, a "racist," writing in Human Events that the word "should not have been applied" to her "as a person."

"White man racist nominee would be forced to withdraw. Latina woman racist should also withdraw," Gingrich wrote on the social-networking site on May 27 -- a remark that has become a flashpoint for criticism of conservative efforts to undermine the standing of a nominee who seems likely to be confirmed.

In his Human Events article, Gingrich sought to retract that remark while continuing to press his case against Sotomayor's legal thinking as overly reliant on identity politics.

"Shortly after President Obama nominated her to a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court, I read Judge Sonia Sotomayor's now famous words," he wrote of the passage in a 2001 speech by Sotomayor that, "I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn't lived that life."

"My initial reaction was strong and direct -- perhaps too strong and too direct," Gingrich continued. "The sentiment struck me as racist and I said so. Since then, some who want to have an open and honest consideration of Judge Sotomayor's fitness to serve on the nation's highest court have been critical of my word choice.

"With these critics who want to have an honest conversation, I agree. The word 'racist' should not have been applied to Judge Sotomayor as a person."

-- Garance Franke-Ruta

Daniels Says No to 2012: Republicans, out of power at every turn in Washington and looking for a path back to the White House, have been casting an eye on the populist approaches embraced by two of the party's rare success stories in recent years: Govs. Mitchell E. Daniels Jr. (Ind.) and Tim Pawlenty (Minn.).

Daniels and Pawlenty, who announced Tuesday that he will not seek a third term in 2010, both built their swing-state electoral appeal on the idea that they best represented the needs and hopes of average voters.

For Daniels, that meant touring the state in an RV and staying in the homes of Indianans when he traveled. For Pawlenty, it was a compelling personal story: He was raised in a working-class family in south St. Paul, his mother died when he was a teenager while his father supported the family by driving a truck, and Pawlenty was the first in his family to attend college. That background and pledges to make the GOP the party of "Sam's Club, not just the country club" are part of his appeal as a potential 2012 nominee.

But Daniels, speaking at a panel hosted by the Hudson Institute, indicated that he had no interest in seeking the presidency.

"I've only ever run for or held one office," Daniels said. "It's the last one I'm going to hold."

-- Chris Cillizza


© 2009 The Washington Post Company

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