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Monday, January 16, 2012

Romney, Gingrich, and French

Inside Higher Ed reports on a peculiar issue in the GOP nomination race:
Romney may be get some defense from foreign language professors over a new charge being leveled against him (even the accusation is true).
A new ad on behalf of Newt Gingrich, after accusing Romney of being a moderate, of supporting government mandated health care and more, raises a new scandalous charge: Romney speaks French. There is even a clip (toward end of the ad) to verify the charge.

Rosemary G. Feal, executive director of the Modern Language Association, was not impressed with the ad. Via e-mail she said: "That Mitt Romney speaks French is probably great news for the million and a half U.S. residents whose first language is French, and it might also influence others who value knowing more than one language. Campaign strategic message fail!"
The ad is a good example of charges that apply to the accuser as well as the accused. Gingrich started as a moderate Republican, backing liberal Nelson Rockefeller for president in the 1960s.  In a 1989 interview, he spoke of "the classic moderate wing of the party where, as a former Rockefeller state chairman,I've spent most of my life."  As for language, Gingrich apparently knew French at one time because his doctoral dissertation drew on French-language sources.  A sample page from its bibliography: