Newt goes back to school

November 15, 2011

Newt Gingrich may not have thrilled a crowd of Iowa school kids with all of his answers on Tuesday, but he cannot be accused of pandering to them.

Gingrich didn’t score points with the 200 or so middle and high schoolers¬† in Osage, Iowa, with his answer to the U.S. falling behind in the brain race with China.

“You’ve got to study more,” he told the kids, who stared back. “Scores in the end aren’t the teacher’s problem; they are the student’s problem.”

The kids were quiet and attentive for the 45 minutes the former US House Speaker spent with them in the gym at Osage Middle School, but their reactions afterward were decidedly mixed.

Some were thrilled with Gingrich’s visit, including Alexandra Burns, 14, the daughter of a local Republican legislator who invited Gingrich after meeting him with her father.

“How cool was that?” she shouted after Gingrich left.

But Gingrich left others cold, including a small group of older boys who said they thought he had ducked too many questions. “He’s just trying to please everybody,” said senior Joe Cockrum, who showed political acumen by adding, “Although if you’re running for president, I would too.”

Cockrum said he’d back former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney among the Republican presidential hopefuls, saying he seemed the least extreme. “I’m not really into those candidates who like to please the Republican Party,” he said.

But if the election were held today, between Romney and Barack Obama? Cockrum, who describes himself as a political independent,  had some good news for the Democratic president.

“I’d vote for Barack Obama,” he said. “I think he’s really doing his best bringing America back, economy-wise and education-wise.”

Cockrum is 18 and said he will “definitely” vote in November.


One comment

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see

I don’t agree with much Newt Gingrich has to say, but he is correct when he says that the responsibility to do well in school lies with the students. I used to be a teacher and I can tell you firsthand, students aren’t held accountable for anything anymore.

Posted by 4ngry4merican | Report as abusive