Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) on Sunday struggled to defend presumptive GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump‘s inconsistent policy proposals and his tendency to eschew facts, claiming that the real estate mogul is “evolving” on the issues.
In particular, Gingrich, who in general supports Trump, couldn’t justify the candidate’s false claim this week that his Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton was “soundly asleep in her bed” during the 2012 terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya. The attack actually occurred at about 3:30 p.m. EST on a Tuesday, meaning Clinton, who was then secretary of state, was awake and at her Washington office.
When Fox News’ Chris Wallace pressed Gingrich about why Trump couldn’t just “stick to the facts,” Gingrich instead pivoted to more general criticisms of Clinton.
WALLACE: Mr. Speaker, you can certainly argue about how Hillary Clinton handled Benghazi. But the attack happened at 3:00 or 4:00 in the afternoon here in Washington. She was working late into the night. As I say, there’s plenty to attack her on. But why not stick to the facts?
GINGRICH: First of all, I’ve had different people say different things about what she did that night and what her instructions were.
WALLACE: But she wasn’t asleep is the point.
GINGRICH: OK. Certainly…
WALLACE: Maybe she should have been, but she wasn’t.
GINGRICH: OK. Uh, I think that on a lot of things people can argue about what Trump says and what Hillary says, but the objective fact is there were over 600 requests for security from Libya. That number came from the chairman of the intelligence committee, not from Donald Trump. They were ignored. The fact is that in the end, there was no effective effort to respond. The fact is, she clearly lied about why it occurred. Again, you had families of the people who were killed who say she lied to them.
I think this is a debate — they can get into details of picking a fight with Donald Trump, but this is a debate I think they are not going to win. On the larger framing of the debate, the country is going to be with Trump.
Trump, who continually contradicts himself on his policy positions, on Saturday appeared to walk back two of his most highly publicized proposals — the mass deportation of undocumented immigrants and a ban on all Muslim immigrants to the U.S.
Gingrich claimed that this was evidence of Trump “evolving,” given that the real estate mogul has no political experience and “has learned more” in the year since he entered the 2016 race.
“I think he stands for an evolving process of trying to come to grips with really big problems,” he said.
“But does ‘evolving’ mean that what he said last week doesn’t stand this week?” Wallace asked.
“It may evolve as the facts evolve and as he learns more,” Gingrich said. “He has changed things as he has learned more. He’ll keep changing.”
Editor’s note: Donald Trump regularly incites political violence and is a serial liar, rampant xenophobe, racist, misogynist