Gingrich: Romney "bouncing around," no message
Updated: 11:30 a.m. ET
CHARLESTON, S.C. - Coming off a landslide upset primary victory in South Carolina Saturday night, Newt Gingrich on Sunday attributed the win in part to his "authenticity" as a candidate - something he suggests his rival Mitt Romney lacks.
Speaking to CBS News' Bob Schieffer on "Face the Nation," Gingrich said it was the people of South Carolina, not himself, who "pulled it off" last night in the Palmetto State: "They wanted somebody who was tough enough and bold enough to take on Obama," he said. "In addition, I think South Carolinians were the first state to really understand how liberal Governor Romney's record was as governor of Massachusetts.
After leading Gingrich in the South Carolina polls by more than 20 points just over a week ago, Romney lost to the former House Speaker by 13 points, following Gingrich 41 percent to 28 percent.
According to exit polls from the state, Gingrich also led on the crucial matter of perceived electability versus President Obama - a question Romney has dominated in the past.
"I think the number one thing people look for in difficult times is authenticity. They want somebody who is what he seems to be, somebody who is comfortable with himself, somebody who is able to have force in what he's saying or she's saying, because they actually believe it," he said.
Gingrich described Romney as a "very good salesman" hocking a "really weak product" - and who has been "dancing on eggs trying to find a version of Romney that will work."
When asked if he was saying Romney was a fake, the candidate demurred.
I will let you, as a very sophisticated senior analyst and reporter, draw your conclusions. But if you take what I just said which are facts, it does show you why he keeps sort of bouncing around trying to find a message. You know, I don't do that. I've had the same message for many, many years."
He added: "I have flaws, I have weaknesses, I have a long career - the fact is, what you see really is what you get."
Earlier this week, ABC News aired an interview featuring the speaker's ex-wife, Marianne, who leveled the claim that Gingrich had asked her to partake in an open marriage while he conducted a years-long extramarital affair with the woman who later became his third wife, Callista.
Gingrich denied the rumors vehemently, and when asked today if he had actually benefited from the interview, the candidate said only that he thought "the people of South Carolina agreed that it was totally inappropriate."
"People can criticize, question, challenge - it was almost as though ABC was an arm of the Romney campaign," he suggested. "What people rejected was that whole premise."
He went on to tout his record as a small business owner as well as his "long level of experience at something called the government of the United States of America."
"Governor Romney may be running for CEO," he said. "I'm running for president."
- Lucy Madison
Lucy Madison is a political reporter for CBSNews.com.Follow on Twitter »
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