Gingrich: "Facts don't matter" to Romney
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich on Sunday continued his harsh criticism for his GOP opponent, Mitt Romney, who is pulling ahead in polls ahead of Tuesday's Florida primary. On CBS' "Face the Nation," Gingrich said Romney's "credibility is going to... collapse" because of "false" statements.
"I think there's a very high likelihood we're going to win Florida because I think when people understand how many different times... he said things that weren't true, his credibility is going to just, frankly, collapse," Gingrich told "Face the Nation" host Bob Schieffer.
Gingrich received an endorsement last night from former GOP candidate Herman Cain, but new polls shows Romney solidifying a lead in Florida. An NBC/Marist poll shows Romney leading Gingrich by 15 points. The poll shows that Romney has 42 percent support among likely Florida primary voters and Gingrich is coming in at 27 percent. A second poll by Miami Herald/Mason Dixon gives Romney an 11 point lead.
When pressed by Schieffer about his claims of Romney's dishonesty, Gingrich continued the attack.
"Lincoln once said if a man won't agree that two plus two equals four then you'll never win the argument because facts don't matter," he said. "Romney's the first candidate I've seen who fits the Lincoln description."
Gingrich specifically pointed to Romney's debate performance last Thursday night in Jacksonville, Fla., in which Romney was widely seen to have a strong performance while Gingrich was on the defensive. Gingrich blamed inaccurate statements by Romney, specifically when Romney said he always voted for a Republican when one was running.
"Look, when somebody says to you, 'I've always voted for the Republican when the opportunity existed' and Larry Sabato [a political analyst at the University of Virginia] tweets within minutes that what he Mitt said wasn't true, that in fact he could have voted for George H.W. Bush or Pat Buchanan on the day that he voted in the Democratic primary for Paul Tsongas," Gingrich said.
Schieffer noted that a few times in the debate, Gingrich seemed speechless. Gingrich said he had to gather himself because he couldn't believe what he was hearing.
"Because what he was saying wasn't true," Gingrich told Schieffer.
"He could have said yeah, I was in Massachusetts. He could have admitted," Gingrich said. "He stood there, and this is why several times in the debate if you go back and look at it I'm standing there controlling myself because I didn't want to get into a running fight at that moment when I knew what he was saying was so false when the better way to handle it is to get the data, lay it out, let people make the judgment on their own. I mean, the election wasn't going to be the next morning."Schieffer noted that Gingrich released a new ad calling Romney "dishonest" and asked if he thought Romney has "a character flaw." (watch at left)
Gingrich told Schieffer he would let the voters make up their own minds if Romney is dishonest, but he then said Romney's "non-truths" are going to hurt him in Florida.
"I think it's really dangerous in a debate to use non-facts because you win a tactical victory, but you strategically begin to destroy your own credibility," Gingrich said.
Later on "Face the Nation," Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus, in response to the question on whether Gingrich's claim that Romney is dishonest, said he thinks the former Massachusetts governor is a man of integrity.
- Leigh Ann Caldwell
Leigh Ann Caldwell is a political reporter for CBSNews.com.Follow on Twitter »
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