Gingrich Camp: Plagiarism Claim “Silly”

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich’s camp said Monday allegations that Alaska GOP Gov. Sarah Palin plagiarized a column Gingrich co-authored four years ago are “just silly.”

“I’m thrilled if Sarah Palin used a Newt Gingrich idea from an op-ed, or speech, or column or whatever,” Gingrich spokesman Rick Tyler told POLITICO. “[Gingrich’s] response to people repeating his ideas has always been good.”

On Saturday, Huffington Post blogger Geoffrey Dunn accused Palin of lifting passages from a column Gingrich co-authored with Craig Shirley in November 2005. Palin twice referenced Gingrich in her remarks, but Dunn claimed she did not give enough credit. Dunn’s biography on the site says he is writing a book about Palin that is due to be published by Macmillan/St. Martin’s Press in 2010.

An Associated Press story on Palin’s denial that she plagiarized Gingrich, a response to the blog post, was the lead story Monday on the Huffington Post’s heavily-trafficked politics page. The plagiarism charge has received broad play in the progressive blogosphere and in stories in Politics Daily and the Anchorage Daily News.

The Huffington Post item held up several examples from Palin’s speech in Anchorage last week introducing Michael Reagan, son of the former President Ronald Reagan, and the 2005 Gingrich and Shirley column.

“First, I think what we're going to learn tonight via Michael is that Ronald Reagan's ideas were the right ideas and all we have to do is look back at his record, his economic record and his national security record to know that his ideas were right,” Palin is quoted as saying.

The Gingrich and Shirley quote held up for comparison is: “What should Americans learn from this remarkable man and his remarkable Presidency?...The ‘right’ ideas really matter (the left was wrong and Reagan was right about virtually every major public policy issue and the historic record is clear for those willing to look at it).”

In another example, Palin stated that the former president “captured our hearts so he could affect positive change by what he did. He focused on our kids, on our children, on their future, on the future of America.”

That quote is compared to the Gingrich and Shirley observation that “the key to capturing the attention and, yes, the hearts of Americans is to focus on their future and their children's future. Reagan understood this.”

Palin is also quoted as saying: “We have to remember first that Ronald Reagan never won any arguments in Washington. He won the arguments by resonating with the American people.”

The Gingrich and Shirley column said: “Reagan never won an argument in Washington. Reagan won his arguments in the country with the American people.”

Asked about the quotes, Tyler said: “I don’t understand what the issue is, she gave us credit.”

“Are we supposed to say that every time someone quotes Reagan, it’s plagiarism?” he asked. “That’s silly, just silly.”

After the Anchorage Daily News wrote a story following up on the episode, Palin attorney Thomas Van Flein wrote a letter to the newspaper asking it to cease republishing the “serious, and false, accusation that the Governor plagiarized text from Newt Gingrich.”

“This is just a completely false allegation, I’d call it defamatory as well,” Van Flein told POLITICO on Monday. “To say that it is plagiarism really defies logic and represents a reckless disregard for the truth.”

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