Initially he called Supreme Court nominee Judge Sonia Sotomayor a “reverse racist” and wanted her to withdraw from consideration. Newt Gingrich has apologized for his choice of words. Some, including President Obama himself, believe Judge Sotomayor would have also chosen some of her past words differently if she had the chance.
In the conservative magazine Human Events, Gingrich writes this week: "My initial reaction was strong and direct - perhaps too strong and too direct. ... Since then, some who want to have an open and honest consideration of Judge Sotomayor's fitness to serve on the nation's highest court have been critical of my word choice. ... The word 'racist' should not have been applied to Judge Sotomayor as a person, even if her words themselves are unacceptable."
According to Gloria Borger, senior political analyst for CNN, Gingrich's apology came because he was feeling the heat from his own party whose members are trying to avoid personal name calling.
Newt Gingrich and others called Sotomayor a racist after learning about her now infamous statement, "I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn't lived that life."
I asked some Hispanic leaders to give their opinion on Sotomayor’s statement. Was it a racist statement?
Take a look at their reactions, and give us yours.
Raul Danny Vargas
National Chairman, Republican National Hispanic Assembly
“Judge Sotomayor’s statements … are no doubt cause for scrutiny at the very least. I assume that she meant that one’s personal experiences have an impact on their perspectives of matters that come before the court, but I’m sure that if she had the opportunity she would want to go back and rephrase her comments…The “racist” term being thrown about in the media right now is probably over-reaching, but she will have to come up with responses that will satisfy those that have some real concerns with her ability to be truly objective. After all, the concept of blind justice, impartiality and the rule of law are fundamental to the role of the Supreme Court. While we have congratulated Judge Sotomayor on her nomination as the first Hispanic nominated to the Supreme Court, and applaud her personal and professional accomplishments, we have called for a fair and thorough scrutiny during the confirmation process.”
VP Programming Terra USA
Los Angeles, CA
“Her track record speaks for itself. I don't believe President Obama looked at her as a woman or a Hispanic he simply chose the candidate with the best qualifications to perform a service to this country and looked at best interests of the American people. Judge Sotomayor stems from the hard working people, those that struggled like many Americans and know what it takes to make a difference, to dream and to achieve success. That is a story we can all relate to and it's an example to everyone regardless of race, sex, religious beliefs, etc. I really hope conservative activists and the Republican Party (senators and Congress) take all these facts into consideration before starting (which they already have) a debate as of whether or not she should be confirmed. She is truly the right person for the job! Regardless of the debates and the wildfire banter, the reality is that Judge Sotomayor has a clean record – a record confirmed twice by Republicans and Democrats alike.”
Arnoldo S. Torres
“First of all the thought that any jurist is able to ignore their experiences and up-bringing when reviewing, deciding a legal matter is foolish. Up to now the Supreme Court and most of the federal bench has had a one constant type of experiences and up-bringing and others have mostly been non-existent. This is not to say that non-minority jurist are racists anymore than it is to say that Ms. Sotomayor's comments are racist. She is simply making a contrast between the backgrounds that have been in play and those that have not to date. It is impossible to argue that jurist, regardless of race, gender, ethnicity, and life experiences do not use their backgrounds on the bench. It is impossible unless you have a reason to oppose someone who is not like those that you have come to expect to serve in this position. So Ms. Sotomayor's comments are not racist but they do honestly reflect a feeling and are an expression of how many minorities who have been excluded from institutions, trades and occupations see themselves.”
Follow David Puente on Twitter @puenteac360
Anderson Cooper goes beyond the headlines to tell stories from many points of view, so you can make up your own mind about the news. Tune in weeknights at 8 and 10 ET on CNN.
Questions or comments? Send an email
Want to know more? Go behind the scenes with