ABC News' Teddy Davis, Arnab Datta, and Rigel Anderson Report: Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich said Tuesday that he did not personally urge members of Congress to vote against Monday's failed Wall Street bailout bill, disputing a report made earlier in the day on MSNBC by correspondent Andrea Mitchell. "MSNBC is just wrong," said Gingrich. "And it is probably wrong deliberately. It is a stunningly dishonest network." "I believe that if they would simply look at what I released yesterday, if they look at what I said on 'This Week' on Sunday, they'll see that what I said was, 'I deeply opposed Paulson's original proposal. I deeply opposed the liberal Democrats making it even worse on Thursday,' I did everything I could," said Gingrich.
"And I think that John Boehner and Roy Blunt would confirm this -- or Eric Cantor or Paul Ryan would confirm this -- I did everything I could over the last five days to improve this bill. And I said with great reluctance I would vote for it," he continued, "and I gave a statement to that effect to Leader Boehner, who was going to both put it in the record and share it with all my friends and former colleagues, so I was actually reluctantly trying to help it get through."
Gingrich offered his scathing criticism during the question and answer period which followed a Tuesday speech on the financial crisis at the National Press Club.
Appearing earlier in the day on MSNBC's "Morning Joe," NBC's Andrea Mitchell reported that she had been "told reliably by leading Republicans who are close to" Gingrich that the former House Speaker "was whipping against" Monday's failed Wall Street bailout bill "until the last minute" when he issued what Mitchell called a "face-saving statement."
"Newt Gingrich was telling people in the strongest possible language that this was a terrible deal," Mitchell continued, "not only that it was a terrible deal, that it was a disaster, that it was the end of democracy as we know it, it was socialism. And then at the last minute comes out with a statement when the vote is already in place."
Mitchell's report was followed by MSNBC's Mike Barnicle saying, "Andrea, I could hug you for saying that because I was told last night by two or three members of Congress that this was the opening salvo of Newt Gingrich's presidential campaign four years hence."
When Barnicle raised the prospect of Gingrich seeking the White House by undermining the House Republican Leader, Mika Brzezinski interjected by borrowing the words Boehner had used to describe the Wall Street bailout.
"Talk about a crap sandwich," said Brzezinski.
Watch the MSNBC video on ThinkProgress.
Gingrich led the charge against Paulson's original proposal last week, telling ABC News on Tues., Sept. 23 that John McCain could not vote in favor of it and still claim "with a straight face" to be "the reform candidate."
The next day - on Wed., Sept. 24 - Gingrich issued a statement to the press praising McCain for suspending his campaign and "putting everything on the line" to try to get a bipartisan "economic package" to replace what he called the "failed Paulson bailout package."
Appearing Sunday on ABC News' "This Week with George Stephanopoulos," Gingrich said that he suspected that he would "probably" end up voting "reluctantly yes" on the revised bailout if he were still in office. He coupled this with a call for Henry Paulson's resignation, claiming that the U.S. Treasury Secretary had behaved in an "un-American way" by initially asking for $700 billion without legislative oversight or judicial review.
On Monday, with the vote underway on the House floor, Gingrich made his position on the bailout definitive, issuing a statement saying that if he were still in office he would "reluctantly and sadly" support it. Gingrich explained his change in position by saying that the House Republicans, "reinforced by John McCain," have improved the bill "significantly" so it is "less bad" than the original proposal offered by Paulson.
MSNBC did not have an immediate reaction to Gingrich's criticism.