Newt Gingrich: I’m Not Perfect, but I’m a Better Choice than Romney

Newt GingrichPresidential hopeful Newt Gingrich
acknowledged Monday that he isn’t the perfect candidate but contends
he’s “a lot more conservative than Mitt Romney and a lot more electable
than anybody else.”

Gingrich, a former
House speaker whose presidential campaign is on the rise just weeks
before the first nominating contests take place, offered sharp criticism
of Romney. For months, the Georgia Republican has refused to criticize
his rivals and instead has kept his focus on President Barack Obama.

all seems to be over. Branding the former Massachusetts governor as a
political opportunist, Gingrich said it is one thing to change positions
if new facts become available and quite another to shift positions for
political gain.

“It’s wrong to go around and
adopt radically different positions based on your need of any one
election, then people will have to ask themselves, `What will you tell
me next time?'” Gingrich told WSC-FM radio Monday morning ahead of a
three-day campaign swing through South Carolina.

has changed his positions on gay rights and abortion since his first
political campaign in 1994. Since that unsuccessful effort, he has
publicly shifted rightward.

It isn’t enough to convince some, including Gingrich.

“We think there has to be a solid conservative alternative to Mitt Romney,” Gingrich said during a morning interview.

By evening, he seemed to temper that.

don’t know of a single person who is running who would not be a very
effective member of my administrative team,” Gingrich said at the
College of Charleston.

At times Gingrich has
blamed the media for stoking the divisions among the contenders in an
attempt “to get Republicans fighting with each other,” as he put it
during an NBC debate. “You want to puff this up into some giant thing,”
Gingrich said then.

Gingrich has seen his
political standing rise as he has posted solid debate performances and
laid the groundwork for a traditional campaign. In South Carolina, for
instance, he has five offices and his supporters are making thousands of
phone calls every day.

Gingrich packed a town
hall-style event Monday night at the College of Charleston. Supporters
who couldn’t get in lined up around the block in the hopes that
organizers would let more people inside and out of the pouring rain.

Gingrich’s two divorces and admissions of infidelity are unlikely to
endear him to Christian conservatives who have a great sway here, he is
pitching himself as the candidate who can best challenge Obama, who is
deeply unpopular among Republicans.

questioned Obama’s allegiances, saying that the administration had sided
with other nations in challenging tough illegal immigration laws in
South Carolina and other states.

“No American
president has the right to side with foreigners against the people and
laws of the United States,” he told the College of Charleston audience.

But Gingrich knows his own shortcomings.

person except Christ has ever been perfect,” Gingrich told WSC-FM. “So I
don’t claim to be the perfect candidate. I just claim to be a lot more
conservative than Mitt Romney and a lot more electable than anybody

He added: “I’m the one candidate who
can bring together national security conservatives and economic
conservatives and social conservatives in order to make sure we have a
conservative nominee.”

Gingrich also faces
criticism for how he spent his time after stepping down as the top
Republican in the House. He built a network of advocacy organizations,
think tanks and consulting firms. He insists he has never lobbied and
touted his private sector experience: “I think we do very good work.”

Gingrich, too, is facing questions about his position on immigration.
His rivals have suggested it would offer amnesty for illegal immigrants.

for controlling the border. I am against amnesty. I’m very disappointed
that at least one of my friends has been, for the last four days, going
around saying things that she knows are not true,” Gingrich said,
taking on Michele Bachmann, the Minnesota congresswoman who has seized
on the issue.

Gingrich has proposed that local
communities have the power to determine whether their neighbors can
remain in the United States despite their immigration status.

ought to have a citizen certification board in every community and
citizens should make the decision whether that person should get a path
to legality but not citizenship – no right to vote, doesn’t become a
citizen,” he said.

Source: Philip Elliott, The Associated Press