Republican presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich tells Newsmax that negative ads attacking the GOP candidates will “battle harden” the eventual nominee and better prepare him for the real challenge ahead: Ousting President Obama from the White House.
Gingrich also says that any primary vote that is not for the former House speaker is a vote for Mitt Romney, because Gingrich is the only conservative candidate who can stop the former Massachusetts governor from winning the GOP nomination.
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In an exclusive interview with Newsmax.TV, Gingrich discusses what viewers can take away from the “King of Bain” video produced by a pro-Gingrich super PAC, which attacks Romney’s record as head of the Bain Capital investment group.
“Governor Romney has run with two major claims: His governorship, which he doesn’t want to talk about because it’s too liberal, and creating 100,000 jobs, which is his claim,” Gingrich says.
“The Washington Post recently gave him three Pinocchios and said in fact he can’t prove that he created 100,000 jobs. In 1994 he claimed he created 10,000 jobs, and they can’t figure out the jump in between.
“And so what I want people to take away is that there are a lot more questions than answers in Governor Romney’s business career, and if he wants us to take that as a serious qualification he needs to be open and explain why we should believe there are 100,000 jobs there when nobody can find them.”
Asked if the video can unite conservatives behind Gingrich’s candidacy, he responds: “I don’t know. I haven’t seen the video. My sense is what it really does is dramatically challenge Governor Romney’s version of how he operated as a businessman. So I think it probably stops his momentum.
“But people have to look and decide: Do they want a Goldwater-Reagan conservative like me, or do they want a moderate from Massachusetts. We’re discovering certainly in South Carolina that a Georgia conservative does pretty well in a place like South Carolina.”
Gingrich says he does not believe that negative attack ads targeting Republican candidates will ultimately help Obama’s re-election bid.
“I think whoever we nominate, and I obviously hope it will be me, had better go through a very tough period in the spring. What you don’t want to do is end up with a candidate who gets nominated in August and then you discover in September they have this huge weakness they can’t defend.
“We all know that President Obama and [political consultant David] Axelrod are going to have a billion dollars and they’re going to probe every possible weakness. So I think whoever comes out of this process should be battle-hardened and ready so we can go into the fall campaign confident that we’ve already been tested.”
Gingrich insists he is the only GOP candidate who can unify the conservative movement. “The only way we’re going to beat Romney is for conservatives to rally around one candidate,” he tells Newsmax.
“Clearly from all the polls we’ve seen now I am right neck and neck with Romney. I have a very good chance of beating him. The other conservatives don’t.
“So in a sense any vote that is not for me is a vote to help elect Romney, and we’re going to try to appeal to the Santorum votes and the Perry votes to be for me precisely because with their help I’m virtually guaranteed to beat Romney. When you combine the three of us we beat Romney by a huge margin.”
Recent polls show Gingrich surging in South Carolina, the next primary state.
“I think South Carolinians understand I am pro-life,” he explains. “As governor, Romney was functionally pro-choice in a big way.
“I am for the Second Amendment. As governor he was for gun control and raised the taxes 400 percent on guns in Massachusetts.
“I helped create jobs with Reagan and as speaker of the House I worked with Bill Clinton and we created 11 million jobs in four years. Massachusetts was 47th in the country, that’s fourth worst in the whole country, in job creation when he was governor.
“So you take this kind of comparison and I think what’s happening is that South Carolinians, who are naturally conservative, when they look at his record in Massachusetts they all drift toward Newt Gingrich.”
A series of ads have questioned both Gingrich and Romney’s conservative credentials on abortion. Responding to the attacks on his position, Gingrich says: “I said the other day that we get this baloney out of Romney. I have a 98.6 percent right-to-life voting record for my entire career, and the only vote they didn’t count was for welfare reform, which had nothing to do with abortion. I have a clear record of supporting President Reagan’s Mexico City policy of not paying for abortions overseas.
“Romney put Planned Parenthood, the largest abortion provider in the United States, in Romneycare. Romneycare has tax-paid abortions. He appointed pro-abortion judges. His state government provided money for an abortion clinic for Planned Parenthood. He actually intervened and overruled his state health department, which was going to give Catholic hospitals a waiver on conscience, and he said no, they had to give away morning after abortion pills, which is against Catholic doctrine.
“Every time you look at Romney you realize this guy was virtually totally pro-choice but pretends to be pro-life. In my case you look at my voting record for 20 years and it’s very clear that I’m pro-life.”
Gingrich was interviewed during a campaign stop in South Florida, which has the largest Cuban-American population in the nation.
Asked how crucial the Hispanic and in particular the Cuban-American vote will be in the Florida primary, Gingrich says: “The Hispanic vote in general is vital to our election bid, and certainly in the Florida primary the Cuban-American vote is enormous.
“I was first here in this hotel in 1995 talking about Cuban liberty. I was here again in 1998 talking about helping victims of communism in Central America. So I’ve had a very long tradition of helping.
“I helped pass the Helms-Burton Act [strengthening the embargo against Cuba] to fight for freedom. I helped sustain Radio Marti. I really have worked very hard to make sure that we have an all-out effort to free the people of Cuba, and I think that gives me a real advantage going into the campaign here in Florida.”