Gingrich says he would "replace" Assad

Republican presidential candidate, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich speaks at Tommy's Ham House, Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2011, in Greenville , S.C. AP Photo/ Richard Shiro

Newt Gingrich
AP Photo/ Richard Shiro

Taking a hard line on a U.S. foe in the Middle East, Republican presidential front-runner Newt Gingrich indicated Wednesday that he would unilaterally "replace" Syrian President Bashar al-Assad because he is running a "bad dictatorship."

The former House speaker was asked on a morning radio show in Chicago to offer a "30-second" answer to what he would do about Syria, where anti-government protests have led to a violent crackdown. Gingrich said, "I can give you a three-second answer. Replace Assad. I mean Assad is our enemy. He is an ally of Iran. It is a bad dictatorship. It is to our interest to get rid of dictators of this kind."

Gingrich did not say how he would remove Assad, and acknowledged there would be "consequences" to such an overt U.S. action. He said that as president, it would be his job to manage them. "Now that means you have consequences and have to be much better at managing the consequences than this administration has been," he said on the Don Wade & Roma radio show. "But I think none the less getting rid of Assad will lead to a better future than keeping him there."

Assad is under mounting international pressure over a military crackdown on anti-government protesters. While the United Nations estimates some 4,000 people have been killed, Assad denied ordering his troops to attack, telling ABC News this week only a "crazy" leader kills his own people.

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