Biden praised ‘power’ of Newt Gingrich’s ‘ideas,’ recommended him for UN ambassador in 2005

Jamie Weinstein | Senior Writer

While Vice President Joe Biden has landed a few jabs on Newt Gingrich during his run for the White House, there was a time when Biden had nothing but effusive praise for the increasingly irrelevant White House contender.

During a 2005 hearing on United Nations reform, then-Sen. Biden praised the “power” of Gingrich’s “ideas” and “persuasion” and even recommended that President George W. Bush select the former House Speaker as his United Nations ambassador.

Here’s the context. As a co-chair of the U.S. Institute of Peace’s Task Force on the United Nations along with former Democratic Maine Sen. George Mitchell, Gingrich appeared before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on July 21, 2005 to discuss United Nations reform.

At the time he appeared before the committee, the Senate was in the midst of a heated debate over President Bush’s nomination of John Bolton to be U.N. ambassador. (Bush would recess appoint Bolton to the position less than two weeks later.) Biden was then the ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and during his opening remarks he went out of the way to laud Gingrich.

“At the risk of raising another contentious issue, I don’t know whether we’ll ever reach agreement with regard to the nomination of Mr. Bolton in terms of material being supplied to those of us in the committee who think we need it, and to the Senate,” Biden said.

“I don’t know whether, if it doesn’t occur, the president will make an interim appointment. That is the president’s judgment, not mine.”

“But I say with all sincerity, if, in fact, there’s any reconsideration, and I’m not suggesting that any has been undertaken, I would say to you Mr. Speaker, I would hope that if the president came to you, that you would consider taking the position,” Biden continued.

“I can’t think of anyone who would be more ideally suited for that job. I mean this sincerely. You and I have disagreed philosophically, I have great respect for you. The power of your ideas, the power of your persuasion and your clear knowledge in this area is the kind of positive force we need now at the United Nations. “

Biden has taken a slightly different tone with regard to Gingrich during the Republican presidential primary this year, knocking the former House Speaker’s economic philosophy and even underhandedly attacking his marital past. Biden did admit in a January interview, however, that Gingrich is “a talented guy. You know, the guy is really good, he’s a great debater.”

But considering Biden once said that there was no one more “ideally suited for that job” of United Nations ambassador, perhaps he will make the case for a Gingrich appointment to Turtle Bay should his boss win a second term.

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