Gingrich to Rush Limbaugh: My "right-wing social engineering" comment wasn't directed at Paul Ryan

I keep thinking of the end of Apollo’s fight with Drago in “Rocky IV,” where he’s already a bloody mess and he’s getting hammered. Everyone knows that the fight should be stopped, but they let him stand in there and take his beating like a warrior. And it just gets worse and worse.

Can’t anyone stop the fight?

In a live interview with Rush Limbaugh Thursday afternoon, Gingrich said he hadn’t actually criticized Ryan’s plan in his Sunday appearance on “Meet the Press,” and that he wasn’t referring to the Wisconsin congressman when he said those words.

“It was not a reference to Paul Ryan. There was no reference to Paul Ryan in that answer,” Gingrich told Limbaugh, who was in the process of gently grilling him about why he used those words in the NBC interview.

Limbaugh asked Gingrich why, then, did he call Ryan to apologize for the remark, if it wasn’t made in reference to Ryan.

“It was interpreted in a way which was causing trouble which he doesn’t need or deserve,” Gingrich said. “My answer wasn’t about the budget, and I promptly went back to say publicly that I would have voted for the Ryan budget.”

I encourage you to watch that exchange on “Meet the Press” or read Matt Lewis’s transcript and judge for yourself who he was talking about. It’s true that Gregory didn’t mention Ryan’s name in his first question, but he did reference Republican plans to change Medicare and cited “premium support” — a hallmark of Ryan’s plan, which Gingrich surely would have known. Even if you cut Newt some slack there, Gregory did explicitly mention Ryan’s plan in his follow-up, which Gingrich proceeded to describe as a “too big a jump” and an example of “radical change.” But we needn’t quibble with the semantics. Plain and simple: If this was all a big misunderstanding about who he was talking about, why didn’t he say that three days ago?

Via Think Progress, here’s the audio from Rush’s show. You will, perhaps, not be surprised to learn that some of Newt’s fundraisers have allegedly dropped out this week. That’s their way of trying to stop the fight, I guess. Exit quotation: “It’s going to take a while for the news media to realize that you’re covering something that happens once or twice in a century, a genuine grass-roots campaign of very big ideas.”