Your Daily Newt: Gingrich Shoots a Pig. Sort of.

David Becker/ZumaPress.com

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As a service to our readers, every day we are delivering a classic moment from the political life of Newt Gingrich—until he either clinches the nomination or bows out.

In early February, Newt Gingrich launched a new website attacking GOP front-runner Mitt Romney for his less-than-distinguished record as a hunter. The site, romneyguns.com, mocks the former Massachusetts governor for once claiming to have hunted “small varmints,” and depicts Romney in an Elmer Fudd-style cap holding a rifle, standing inside a silver cup. It’s funny because Romney has been hilariously uncomfortable when he’s asked about hunting. It’s also funny because the man attacking him is Newt Gingrich.

Gingrich, as my colleague Andy Kroll reported in January, has never owned a gun in his life. His comment that “males are biologically driven to go out and hunt giraffes” notwithstanding, he does not hunt. Instead, Gingrich’s passion for wildlife is on the complete other side of the spectrum—he once told a reporter that he’d like to spend 6 to 12 months in the Amazon staring at tree sloths. When it comes to big-game-hunting bona fides, the former speaker gives Romney a run for his money. Newt’s affinity for firing a gun in anger at an animal was captured in this scene from a 1995 Vanity Fair profile:

Carter tells a down-home kind of story from the 1970s. Newt and Carter, who was then his campaign treasurer, used to barbecue hogs in the Gingriches’ driveway in Carrollton, Georgia. They would go to a friend’s farm and pick out a hog –and shoot it.

“One day, Newt says to me, ‘I need to be the one to kill the hog. It’s only right, just morally.'”

Carter showed Newt how to use a Walther P-38, a W.W. II German pistol. “I said, ‘Put some corn in your left hand. When the pig comes over to get it, put the pistol against his head and shoot him between his eyes.'”

“So the pig comes over and he starts eating,” says Carter. “Newt flinches as the round hits the pig on the side of the head and ricochets down.” But the shot only stunned the hog and sent it fleeing back into the pen. “Newt keeps trying to get this pig to come back to him. Newt’s getting madder and madder. I said to him, ‘You just shot the son of a bitch in the head, Newt, why do you think he’s gonna come to you?'”

Carter recalls urging his comrade-in-arms, “‘You gotta get in there, in the hogpen, and go get him.’ But Newt wouldn’t do it. So I ended up going in the pen and killing the hog.”

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THE BIG PICTURE

You expect the big picture, and it's our job at Mother Jones to give it to you. And right now, so many of the troubles we face are the making not of a virus, but of the quest for profit, political or economic (and not just from the man in the White House who could have offered leadership and comfort but instead gave us bleach).

In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," we unpack what the coronavirus crisis has meant for journalism, including Mother Jones’, and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support our nonprofit journalism with a donation: We've scoured our budget and made the cuts we can without impairing our mission, and we hope to raise $400,000 from our community of online readers to help keep our big reporting projects going because this extraordinary pandemic-plus-election year is no time to pull back.

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