Newt Gingrich ramping up rhetoric on Islam

After a month of sparring with former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, Gingrich has returned to more comfortable territory — criticizing President Obama with language more incendiary than his rivals would dare to use.

In Georgia Tuesday, he called Obama “so pro-Islamic that [he] can’t even tell the truth about the people who are trying to kill us,” the latest in a series of recent attacks on the White House as excessively friendly to Muslims.
In last week’s debate, he used his opening remarks to promise that “no future president will ever bow to a Saudi king again.”

The focus on Islam is a return to form for Gingrich, who in May of last year warned of a United States “potentially . . .dominated by radical Islamists and with no understanding of what it once meant to be an American.” In 2010, he compared Muslims hoping to build an Islamic Center near the World Trade Center site to Nazis.

Republican candidates “believe they have nothing to lose and everything to gain by pandering to anti-Islamic bigotry,” said Ibrahim Hooper, spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations. “It’s always been under the surface, ready to pop up at any moment.”

But it’s not certain that this strategy will win Gingrich votes so much as headlines. His May 2011 comments were not followed by a surge in polls.