Gingrich casts self as "Reagan populist conservative"

Republican presidential candidate and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich arrives during a South Carolina Republican presidential primary night rally, Saturday, Jan. 21, 2012, in Columbia, S.C.
Newt Gingrich

Keeping up his assaults on Washington elites and mainstream media - two lines of attack that have served him well recently - Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich on Sunday sought to cast himself as an outsider fighting against Mitt Romney, the establishment candidate.

Speaking on NBC's "Meet the Press," Gingrich called himself a "Reagan populist conservative" who should perform well in the January 31 Florida Republican primary. Gingrich heads into Florida following a solid victory in South Carolina's primary. He said that "Floridians would like someone who speaks for them" in Washington.

Gingrich said his South Carolina victory can be attributed in part to "the level of anger at the national establishment... People who are sick and tired of being told what they're allowed to think, what they're allowed to say."

Some of Gingrich's former House colleagues have expressed concern over Gingrich's possible nomination, particularly with respect to his electability - but Gingrich said on "Meet the Press" that "the establishment is right to be worried about a Gingrich nomination" because it would mean "we're going to change things."

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Though he served in the House for 20 years, including four years as Speaker, Gingrich said, "I'm happy to be in the tradition of Ronald Reagan as the outsider who scares the Republican establishment."

Asked on CNN's "State of the Union" why he didn't qualify as a Washington elite, Gingrich said, "I think it's a matter of attitude.

"Ronald Reagan did very well for a long time, and people understood that he was never in Washington, even when he was president," he said. "I ran for Congress to change things in Washington. I worked with President Reagan to change things in Washington. As Speaker of the House, we did change things."

Gingrich also noted on "Meet the Press" that his "head-on collision with the media" in recent debates helped him tap into voter frustrations. He accused the mainstream media of refusing to investigate President Obama's history of what he calls "Alinsky radicalism," after Saul Alinksy, whose activist teachings have been used by both the left and right.

"The objective fact is he belives in a very radical vision of America's future," he said. "Nobody in the elite media has ever wanted to dig into it."

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