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Gingrich Opts To "Reframe" Racist Tweet

When Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich blasted President Obama's Supreme Court nominee Judge Sonia Sotomayor for being a racist on Twitter, he ignited a debate over her objectivity.

On May 27 Gingrich published Twitter comments on a 2001 speech by Sotomayor in which she said "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." She also acknowledged that "there can never be a universal definition of 'wise.'"

Gingrich likened her speech to a white male saying his experience would make him a better judge than a Latina. "New racism is no better than old racism," he wrote. "White man racist nominee would be forced to withdraw. Latina woman racist should also withdraw."

Speaking to Face the Nation guest moderator Harry Smith Sunday, senior White House advisor David Axelrod defended Sotomayor against charges that she is a racist.

"I think what she believes, Harry, is that everyone is the product of their experiences. She's the product of hers."

Axelrod called Gingrich's comment "unfortunate" and said, "I think that it is so unfair and so unreflective of who she is."

Later in the program, Gingrich said he wished to "reframe" his initial comment calling Sotomayor a racist, when really he does not know the nominee and meant that her words were racist.

"One of the challenges for the administration is having first chided me for language, then having said she didn't mean it, and then having said she ought to restate it. Now they face the fact that she has said this, written about it four or five time," he argued.

"If you say people of this ethnic background are superior to people of this ethnic background, take out her language and put in the word 'white,' put in 'white male' where she had 'Latina,' that person would be disqualified from the court. Also would be disqualified as a juror."

Gingrich admitted that it is "very doubtful" that her comments would disqualify her as a high court pick. "I think she was a good prosecutor. I think she was an acceptable district court judge," he said.

But, Gingrich added, lower level judges "aren't in a position to live out whatever their prejudices are because they're bound by the Supreme Court," arguing that a lifetime appointment would put her in a position to radicalize the Court.

More from Face The Nation (6.07.09):

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  • Gingrich Responds To Powell-Cheney Debate
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