GOLDEN, Colo. – Newt Gingrich on Monday compared Egypt’s planned trial of 19 Americans to the 1979 Iranian hostage crisis that helped destroy Jimmy Carter’s presidency, and hung it around President Obama’s neck.
“This reminds me exactly of Jimmy Carter and the Iranian hostages. You now have the Obama hostage crisis to resemble the Carter hostage crisis,” Gingrich told a half-full ballroom at a Marriott here.
Islamic students and militants took 52 Americans hostage in 1979 in the American Embassy in Tehran and held them for 444 days. They were released on Jan. 20, 1981, just after Ronald Reagan was sworn in to succeed Carter.
The situation in Egypt, while potentially troublesome for Obama, is quite different, at this point. Egypt plans to try the Americans on violations of funding laws for foreign nongovernmental organizations. The 19 people have not been allowed to leave the country, but they are not in custody.
A man in the crowd at the Gingrich rally called on the American government to take back the $1.3 billion in U.S. military aid currently going to Egypt. Gingrich responded that if elected president, he would do a lot more than that to combat what he called the “latest product of Obama’s belief in an Arab Spring” -- the makeup of the Egyptian government after recent legislative elections.
“The largest voting bloc in the new Egyptian government is the Muslim Brotherhood. The second-largest group is more radical than the Muslim Brotherhood. So the Muslim Brotherhood are now the moderates,” Gingrich said. “This is like the 1930s, and this is a mindless capitulation to forces that are contrary to our entire civilization.”
The second-largest group in the Egyptian legislature is the populist, ultraconservative Salafi al-Nour Party, which adheres to a fundamentalist interpretation of Islam.