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The Trail: 2012 Presidential News from the Field / CAMPAIGN 2012

Gingrich Calls Obama a Chicago Radical

GOP candidate links Obama to famed organizer that tea party now emulates.

Newt Gingrich is suggesting that President Obama learned radical ideas from the writings of Saul Alinsky, a community organizer shown here in a 1966 photo.(AP Photo)

photo of Sarah Huisenga
November 30, 2011

GREENVILLE, S.C. -- On the campaign trail, Newt Gingrich is trying to make some new inroads on President Obama by reviving an old charge, suggesting that the president’s past as a community organizer ties him to a “radical” tradition.

“Obama believes in a Saul Alinsky radicalism which the press corps was never willing to look at,” Gingrich told a standing room-only crowd at Tommy’s Country Ham House here. "When he said he was a community organizer, it wasn’t Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts. It was radicalism taught on the south side of Chicago by Saul Alinsky.”

Alinsky, a Chicago-based community organizer, died in 1972, when Obama was 10 years old. His book, Rules for Radicals, has been a Bible not only for community organizers of the left, but more recently for the tea party. One tea party-affiliated group, FreedomWorks, has encouraged its activists to borrow from Alinsky’s precepts to organize conservative activists.

 

Nonetheless, Gingrich has begun to make an issue of Alinsky on the campaign, suggesting that he influenced Obama when the future president was working as a community organizer in Chicago. At a town hall in Newberry, S.C., on Tuesday, Gingrich tied Obama to “Saul Alinsky radicalism” four times.

It’s part of a strategy that Gingrich has adopted as he has moved into the lead in some polls.

“I’m going to stay focused on the president,” Gingrich said, indicating that he’ll avoid attacks on fellow Republicans. “The audiences I’m talking to seem to like somebody who’s both positive about solutions and focused on the president.”

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