At South Carolina debate, says he doesn't see why African-Americans are offended by plan, gets wild applause.
The former House Speaker charged that city unions are to blame for janitors making way too much money – and he did so to defend himself from a question after he recycled a so-called plan to put school children to work.
In effect, Gingrich argued the best thing public schools could do for students – particularly black students – was to give them a broom.
Gingrich – who rattled off a string of one-liners during the South Carolina showdown – said that all Americans, but particularly African-Americans, need jobs rather than more Obama-style handouts, like food stamps.
“No, I don’t see that,” Gingrich shot back, to applause from the Myrtle Beach crowd.
Gingrich said his own daughter’s first job was doing janitorial work at the First Baptist Church in Carrollton, Ga., when she was 13. That could be a nationwide model, Gingrich said, turning his barbed tongue on the city’s public school janitors.
“New York City pays their janitors an absurd amount of money because of the union,” Gingrich opined. “You could take one janitor and hire 30 some kids to work in the school for the price of one janitor, and those 30 kids would be a lot less likely to drop out,” he added.
“They would actually have money in their pocket. They’d learn to show up for work.”
Many polls in the Palmetto State, which holds its first-in-the-South primary on Saturday, have Gingrich running second behind former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who faced a tough question from Rick Perry. The Texas governor needled Romney for refusing to release his income tax returns.
“We cannot fire our nominee in September,” Perry jabbed. “We need to know now . . . so the people of South Carolina can take a look and decide if . . . we got a flawed candidate or not.”
Romney ignored Perry, but couldn’t duck a follow-up question. Reluctantly, and with tortured syntax, he agreed to release his returns – “probably” in April, when most Americans file theirs.
“I think I’ve heard enough from folks saying, ‘Look, you know, let’s see your tax records.’ I have nothing in them to suggest there’s any problem, and I’m happy to do so,” Romney stammered.