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.)