Ted Cruz and Newt Gingrich both dared to say nice things about Nelson Mandela on social media this weekend. Then they learned how out-of-touch their conservative followers really are. Gingrich's realization happened on television:

CNN "State of the Union" host Candy Crowley read some of the Facebook responses criticizing Gingrich's statement.

"Such an amazing rewrite of history since 1962 and 1990. Newt, I thought you, of all people, a historian, would be true to who this guy really was," one said. And another wrote: "This clenched-fist, murdering guerilla warrior does not deserve respect from informed Americans."

Gingrich said he was "very surprised" by reactions. And in response to the uproar, he wrote his Friday newsletter asking his followers what they would have done about Mandela's views and apartheid in South Africa.

And now Crooks & Liars notes that Gingrich is in the iffy position of defending Ronald Reagan's South Africa stance:

On Monday, the former House Speaker told CNN's Chris Cuomo that he had "analyzed" why conservatives were angry about his praise of Mandela and determined that some of those people had "confused" Mandela with other members of his party — the African National Congress (ANC) — who committed violence while he was in jail for 27 years.

But Gingrich also came to the conclusion that some people had become angry at liberals who recalled Reagan's record on apartheid after Mandela's death.

"Some elements of the left, particularly on one news channel, went overboard in trying to use this as an excuse to attack Ronald Reagan," Gingrich opined. "And I think people who are Reagan loyalists, who know that Reagan had condemned apartheid, Reagan had called for Mandela to be released, Reagan actually appointed the first black ambassador to South Africa whose job was to pressure the Afrikaans government."

Reagan also branded Mandela as a terrorist and "embrace[d]" apartheid as a president. But, you know, Gingrich is fond of calling himself a historian, so he obviously knows what he's talking about.