Newt: “I’m Not Rich”

Newt and Callista GingrichPatrick Fallon/ZUMA Press

Throw a bunch of desperate and anxious candidates into the crucible of the first primary in the nation, and you will get a stream of whoppers and prevarications. But even though the New Hampshire campaign is not done, we already have a winner in the biggest lie of the week contest. The honors go to Newt Gingrich.

When Gingrich was campaigning in Laconia on Wednesday, a fellow came up to the former House speaker and asked, “Won’t you buy a home in the Lakes Region if elected president?” This was a reference to Mitt Romney’s house in New Hampshire.

Gingrich replied, “No, I can’t afford things like that. I’m not rich.”

And his wife Callista quickly added, “We have one home.”

Not rich? This past summer, Gingrich had to file the financial-disclosure form required of presidential candidates. It revealed that he has a net worth of at least $6.7 million and that his income was at least $2.6 million in 2010. That’s about 65 times the income of the average family of four in the United States. That puts him well into the top 1 percent (about $520,000 a year or more) and close to the top 0.1 percent. He, of course, had that $500,000-plus tab at Tiffany’s, and weeks ago was boasting that he pulled in $60,000 a speech. These are the sort of actions that tend to be associated with richness.

If Gingrich does not consider himself wealthy, he’s living in a world far different from that of the bottom 99 percent. This is a negative ad that writes itself.

(H/t to Alexandra Moe of NBC News for reporting this much underreported exchange.)

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  • David Corn

    David Corn is Mother Jones' Washington bureau chief and an on-air analyst for MSNBC. He is the co-author (with Michael Isikoff) of Russian Roulette: The Inside Story of Putin’s War on America and the Election of Donald Trump. He is the author of three New York Times bestsellers, Showdown, Hubris (with Isikoff), and The Lies of George W. Bush, as well as the e-book, 47 Percent: Uncovering the Romney Video that Rocked the 2012 Election. For more of his stories, click here. He's also on Twitter and Facebook.