Newt Backs Off 'Racist' Comment

By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 3, 2009 11:02 AM CDT
Former Republican House Speaker Newt Gingrich looks at the audience before speaking during a Tax Day Tea Party Wednesday, April 15, 2009 at City Hall Park in New York.   (AP Photo/Stephen Chernin)
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(Newser) – Newt Gingrich today backed off his remark that Sonia Sotomayor is a “Latina woman racist,” the Boston Globe reports. When he heard the Supreme Court nominee’s now-infamous “wise Latina” soundbite, “my initial reaction was strong and direct,” he wrote in his blog today on Human Events. “Perhaps too strong and direct. The sentiment struck me as racist and I said so.”

Gingrich said criticism from fellow Republicans made him see he’d chosen his words poorly. “The word ‘racist’ should not have been applied to Judge Sotomayor as a person,” he allows, “even if her words themselves are unacceptable,” and he still opposes her confirmation. Jeff Sessions, the ranking Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, told CNN he was “very glad” about Gingrich’s backtracking.