Political Insider

An AJC blog about Atlanta politics, Georgia politics, Georgia and metro Atlanta election campaigns. Because all politics is local.

Newt Gingrich on the ex-beauty queen who wasn't 'supposed to gain 60 pounds'

Newt Gingrich defended Donald Trump's criticism of an ex-beauty queen who gained weight after winning a pageant the Republican once owned.

At a keynote speech Wednesday of the Log Cabin Republicans annual meeting, the former Georgia lawmaker said the media allied with Democrat Hillary Clinton's campaign to persecute Trump's comments about Alicia Machado, the 1996 winner of the Miss Universe pageant. Clinton claimed Trump called Machado "Miss Piggy" at Monday's debate.

From the Daily Mail:

"You are not supposed to gain 60 pounds the year you're Miss Universe,' Gingrich said, agreeing with Trump, and suggesting she violated her contact, at tonight's 'Spirit of Lincoln' dinner in downtown D.C. 


He brought up a number of stories about Machado's past, including a report that she threatened to kill a judge when he charged her boyfriend with attempted murder. 

'This is actually a sympathetic, sincere girl scout of extraordinary decency and great nobility who was really battered by Donald Trump 20 years ago and therefore we should not vote for Donald Trump despite everything else,' Gingrich said sarcastically.  


Faculty leaders have already raised a red flag about the likely Sam Olens takeover of Kennesaw State University. Now an alumni group is sounding an alarm.

Two Kennesaw State graduates, Lane Hunter and Sarah Rose, drafted a petition urging the Board of Regents to reject the Attorney General as "one huge step backwards for the university."

Their chief complaint is his role in defending in court Georgia's same-sex marriage ban, which was struck down by a 2015 U.S. Supreme Court ruling.

Read their petition, which had more than 2,400 signatures:

The school has become increasingly accepting of LGBTQ students. As alumni of KSU who are part of the queer community, we worry that appointing Olens as university president will have a long-lasting, detrimental effect on the academic experience of KSU's queer student body - and the community as a whole.

Two people with direct knowledge of the negotiations say it’s likely that Olens will ascend to the presidency of the Cobb County school, but both stressed the talks are ongoing. One of them added that the discussions hit a bumpy patch in the last two weeks.

Olens has stayed mum on whether he will step down this year to take the reins of the school, which has faced troubling financial questions that emerged just as the former president retired. The Board of Regents has declined comment, too.

Gov. Nathan Deal would tap Olens’ replacement if he takes the gig, and a leading contender is economic development commissioner Chris Carr, who is a close ally of the governor and a former top aide to U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson.


Isakson himself played coy when asked Wednesday about Carr potentially replacing Olens.

“He’s a great human being and has been great to me,” Isakson said of Carr. “But until I hear from Sam Olens that he’s not the attorney general, I’m not going to get into speculation about anything else.”

We tried, folks.



Who says bipartisanship is dead? 

Georgia's two U.S. senators joined 95 of their colleagues yesterday to hand President Barack Obama the first veto override of his presidency.

Republicans David Perdue and Johnny Isakson voted in favor of legislation that would let families of 9/11 victims sue the government of Saudi Arabia for damages.

Here's more from our hard-working colleague Jamie Dupree:

The Senate vote was 97-1 against the President – only Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid stood with Mr. Obama.

The House vote was 348-77. Most of the “no” votes in the House were from Democrats.

The White House did not mince words about the veto rebuke.

“This is the single most embarrassing thing the United States Senate has done possibly since 1983,” said spokesman Josh Earnest.

The White House warned – in vain – that the legal move could open members of the U.S. military and intelligence services to legal actions.

Isakson said the bill "sends a strong message to the rest of the world that America will not tolerate those who support terrorism against our people." Perdue said the victims' families "deserve their day in court."


The Washington Post has this video dispatch from Gwinnett County about how recent demographic changes are changing Georgia's political scene.

You'll see some familiar faces, including state House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams, House candidates Donna McLeod and Scott Hilton and Gwinnett GOP Chairman Rich Carithers.


Speaking of Abrams, she's also interviewed in Lenny Letter, the left-leaning feminist newsletter started by HBO's Lena Dunham, about her New Georgia Project.

Abrams says this in the interview about what it's like to be the first woman to lead either party in the General Assembly:

"Yes, I'm the first woman to have this job. What that means is when I enter a space with men who are not used to having the conversations I need them to have with me, I begin by trying to create a space for that conversation to happen. You can enter it with anger, with an assumption of discrimination, or you can enter it as an opportunity to give people a chance to be different than they are. I enter the space knowing, 'You probably haven't talked to someone with my equipment about issues like this, so let me help you out.'"

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About the Author

Tamar Hallerman is The Atlanta Journal-Constitution's Washington correspondent, covering Congress, federal agencies and other government activities that impact Georgia.