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Gingrich, Axelrod Clash on Sotomayor, Health Care Reform

Former Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.), who has backpedaled from earlier remarks in which he called Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor a racist, said he still views many of her comments as racist but said it’s for the Senate to judge whether she’s the right person for the court. Speaking on CBS’ “Face the Nation,— Gingrich said of Sotomayor’s years-old comments that “a wise Latina— could reach a better judgment than a white male, it’s “clear that what she said was racist.— The former Speaker also said he would decide on a presidential bid after consulting his family and added, “I wouldn’t run unless we thought we could govern.—As to whether Sotomayor’s comments, some of which have surfaced recently, should disqualify her for the lifetime nomination to the nation’s highest court, Gingrich said it is the “solemn obligation of 100 Senators— to render a judgment.But on the same program, David Axelrod, a senior adviser to President Barack Obama, dismissed the controversy and called Sotomayor’s background “a triumph, a great American story.—When asked on CNN’s “State of the Union— whether Obama knew of Sotomayor’s past comments, Axelrod told John King: “I don’t know whether the president was aware or not, but he certainly is now. I don’t think it has changed his view. … I think this is kind of a sideshow.—On “Face the Nation,— Gingrich and Axelrod also sounded off on health care reform, with Axelrod reiterating that Obama wants to see a public option included in the forthcoming legislation.That would lead to additional competition and better prices and would ultimately “give consumers a better deal,— Axelrod said, adding that he thinks a reform bill can be completed by summer with bipartisan support.“Health care costs are crushing families and businesses,— he said. “We need health reform. … If we don’t do health care reform, if we don’t get costs under control … then we will have a fiscal disaster in the future.—But Gingrich said the American public will ultimately come out against a plan that would destroy health insurance companies and empower bureaucrats to decide what treatment a patient can receive. “I don’t think that’s a model we’re going to accept,— he said.But Axelrod said there is a “sense of urgency— about getting health care done, and unlike in 1993, there is not clear business and health insurance opposition to reform. “You don’t see that now,— he said.Jessica Brady contributed to this report.

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