Within hours of Gingrich's comments, Trump was hitting back — insisting that it was "inappropriate" that Gingrich condemned him for what he said of Judge Gonzalo Curiel . "As far as Newt is concerned, I saw Newt, I was surprised that Newt — I thought it was inappropriate what he said," Trump told Fox News Monday morning.
Given that back and forth, I reached out to Gingrich to see what he made of the hubbub — and whether it had changed his generally positive views on Trump. It has not.
Here's what Newt told me:
Trump is going to be fine as a candidate. He is learning very rapidly. When [Ted] Cruz dropped out so early it took away the 60 days Trump and his campaign needed to get organized to lead the entire party and a general election campaign.As someone who never ran for office before and who has had an amazing 11-month run (replacing 16 more seasoned candidates including a number the Washington elite would have bet on), Trump has shown a remarkable ability to perform and to learn.Trump's complaints about the judge and the law firm in the Trump University case are valid and reflect a growing pattern of politicized "justice." Criticizing the judge for his membership in a radical La Raza San Diego group would have been legitimate. Focusing on ethnicity was not.I am confident the Trump campaign from the convention on will be remarkably inclusive and will do much better with minorities than [Mitt] Romney did in 2012.
(Worth noting: Even many conservatives have debunked the idea of Curial's membership in La Raza. What this refers to is the fact that Curial was a member of the Latino Bar Association of California.)
The takeaway? Trump did everything right except refer to Curiel's Mexican heritage. He made a mistake but one he will learn from and not make again — because Trump is a quick learner. Things will be better. Soon.
That's a much more optimistic readout on Trump's comments about Curiel than Gingrich appeared to offer during his appearance on "Fox News Sunday."
Why the difference? Maybe Gingrich's comments about Trump — he said the real estate mogul had made the "worst mistake" of his campaign — were misinterpreted as more critical of Trump than he intended them to be. Or maybe Gingrich thought it wise to reel in his critique of Trump in hopes of continuing to hold down the pole position in the veepstakes.
After all, if we've learned anything in this campaign it's that Trump likes people who agree with him. And really doesn't like those who don't.