FLORENCE, S.C. - Injecting a big dose of testosterone into the presidential debate, Republican candidate Newt Gingrich said Tuesday he wants to "knock out" President Obama in the general election in response to a question about whether he wants to bloody his nose.
At a town hall meeting of attended by about 200 people at the Art Trail Gallery, a supporter told Gingrich, "We've got to bloody Obama's nose. You've mentioned challenging him to seven, three-hour debates ... if he doesn't agree to that, how do you plan to aggressively take the gloves off and go after him?" Gingrich responded, "I don't want to argue with you about the analogy. I don't want to bloody his nose, I want to knock him out."
The audience applauded.
He was asked by another member of the audience whether he would consider running for vice president if he doesn't get the nomination himself. In a rare acknowledgement of his weakness as a team player, Gingrich said the other candidates wouldn't want him as their running mate. "Well I'd have to look at it very seriously if offered. But I'll tell you, I can't imagine a presidential candidate who'd want to have me as their vice president."
Recovering his usual bravado, the former House speaker said, "If you look at the polling, I'm the only conservative who realistically has a chance to be the nominee. So any vote for Santorum or Perry in effect, is a vote to allow Romney to become the nominee. Because we've got to bring conservatives together in order to stop him."
Asked if his former colleague in Congress, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, should drop out of the race, Gingrich said, "Rick is a good friend of mine and he's a nice man. He lost his state for re-election by the largest margin in the history of Pennsylvania. Now, there's no evidence he can put together a national majority ... He doesn't have any of the knowledge for how to do something of this scale."
He later added, "From the stand point of the conservative movement, consolidating into a Gingrich candidacy would in fact virtually guarantee victory on Saturday," the day of the South Carolina primary.