“I believe that we have to recognize that we are at war,” Gingrich said on Friday during a Facebook Live broadcast.
In his daily question-and-answer session, the former speaker of the house and rejected vice presidential pick for Donald Trump, attempted to explain his inexplicable response to the devastating attack in Nice, France last night.
In a Thursday interview with Sean Hannity—a prominent cheerleader of the former House Speaker, who flew him on his plane to meet Trump earlier in the week—Gingrich said that the United States should somehow test every individual with a “Muslim background” in the country to determine if they are a threat or not.
“Let me be as blunt and direct as I can be,” he said. “Western civilization is in a war. We should frankly test every person here who is of a Muslim background, and if they believe in Sharia, they should be deported.” He continued: “Sharia is incompatible with Western civilization. Modern Muslims who have given up Sharia, glad to have them as citizens. Perfectly happy to have them next door.”
If Muslim citizens meet these so-called qualifications, Gingrich’s prize for them would be the American Dream of being allowed to remain in the country.
After seeing the reaction to his words transcribed in media reports, Gingrich called it an “overreaction,” and tried to explain his rationale from what looked like a broom closet with a bookshelf.
Making no mention of Trump—a day after he suggested the two of them could be “pirates” on a joint ticket—Gingrich focused his remarks entirely on Nice and the threat that terrorism poses to the United States.
Gingrich’s broadcast came shortly after Trump unceremoniously finalized his decision to tap Indiana Governor Mike Pence as his VP pick—announced with a tweet and an unintentionally innuendo-laden new logo—but he made no mention of either man.
On Thursday, Gingrich teased that whomever was tapped as potential VP would join the broadcast, but Pence was nowhere in sight within the cramped frame.
The former presidential candidate went on to suggest that the United States needs new rules for “what Americans can and can’t do,” emphasizing that wartime state powers must be expanded. “I think we need to talk through what is the right way of handling people who are here but are not citizens,” Gingrich said. “But the bias should be in favor of winning the war.”
He clarified his calls for testing every U.S. Muslim. “If you are a practicing Muslim and you believe deeply in your faith but you’re also loyal to the United States, and you believe in the Constitution, you should have your rights totally completely protected within the Constitution,” he said.
Ultimately, after months of angling to be Trump’s right-hand man, the former speaker’s reward was just another stream-of-consciousness mobile broadcast in a tiny room.
Gingrich did not respond to a question from The Daily Beast about his opinion of Trump’s VP pick.