GOP presidential contender Newt Gingrich has repeatedly noted how much he dislikes the Occupy movement, including telling them to “get a job” and “take a bath.”
But Gingrich once embodied those principles himself.
A recent Reuters article provides examples of college activism from the former Speaker of the House. His record of engaging in campus protests comes as a surprise, largely because of his multiple comments comparing President Barack Obama’s “radical community organizing” to activist Saul Alinsky.
As a graduate student at Tulane University, Gingrich formed a student group to protest the university’s decision to ban nude photographs from the campus newspaper, Reuters reports. Gingrich and his group, Mobilization of Responsible Tulane Students, picketed the house of Tulane University President Herbert Longenecker, asking him to rescind the ban on nude photographs.
When the group met with Longenecker and other university officials, Gingrich was reportedly one of the most vocal and bombastic leaders present.
Ultimately, the university kept its ban on the publication of nude photographs and the protests eventually fizzled.
This event gives insight into how Gingrich become the politician he stands out as today — a man with great passion and audacity.
His bombastic nature toward university officials could be compared to his dealing with Democrats, the White House, and rival Republicans during his time as speaker of the House. Take, for example, his temper tantrum on Air Force One. “Snubbed” by President Bill Clinton for having to exit the rear door of the airplane, many have speculated that his poor reaction to the situation was another reason behind the government shutdown in 1996.
Some have questioned Gingrich’s temperament since his own party tried to push him out of the speakership in 1996. Then, 64 percent of Republicans opposed his reelection as speaker.
But Gingrich’s activism as a college student does one other thing — it incites a need to further examine his stances on community organizing, protesting, and activism. While his days of student activism are seemingly limited to this event, his activism creates a discrepancy with his viewpoints, at least on the surface level. Even if Gingrich were to shrug it off as a mistaken act of youthful passion, it will just become another example of political flip-flopping this election cycle unless he or his staff comments on the issue.
This article was originally post on Pushback.org, a part of Campus Progress Action.