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Newt Gingrich on the issues: Then and now

Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich is riding a boom in the polls based on his strong brand and consistent debate performances. But the former House speaker’s candidacy is all the more remarkable given that he has tried out positions like seasonal wardrobes. Below are a few examples of Gingrich’s shifting stances over the years.

On health care

For years, Gingrich supported the concept of a mandate for individuals of means to buy health insurance, similar to the provision in both the Massachusetts health care plan and President Obama’s health care overhaul. Gingrich now rejects the concept.

On cap-and-trade

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Gingrich favored a market-based cap-and-trade program to reduce carbon emissions in 2007, but two years later said he opposed such a plan.

On Medicare

Last May, he criticized as “right-wing social engineering’’ the proposal of Representative Paul Ryan, Republican of Wisconsin, to convert Medicare into a voucher program so seniors could privately purchase insurance. Following a firestorm of protest from conservatives, Gingrich quickly backed off, apologized to Ryan, and said his “words were inaccurate and unfortunate.’’

On Freddie Mac

Gingrich suggested in one debate that Democrat Barney Frank, former House Financial Services Committee chairman, should be jailed for lax oversight of Freddie Mac, the quasi-public mortgatge underwriting giant that many conservatives blame for the collapse of the housing market.

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It was later reported that Gingrich was paid up to $1.8 milllion in consulting fees by Freddie Mac. Gingrich insisted he was hired as a historian, but Bloomberg News reported that former agency officials said he was retained to “build bridges’’ to congressional Republicans and conservatives “seeking to dismantle’’ Freddie Mac.

On climate change

In 2008, Gingrich appeared in a commercial with then-Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi urging action on climate change. In a recent Fox News interview, Gingrich called the commercial “one of the dumbest things I’ve done in recent years’’ and said “the evidence is not complete’’ to support global warming.

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