Rush Limbaugh signals support for Newt Gingrich

Rush Limbaugh (AP)

Conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh on Monday reversed himself and signaled support for Newt Gingrich, praising Gingrich as "the last person" who was able to balance the federal budget and cut government spending. The move is a reversal from earlier, harsh attacks on the former House speaker.

"Who was the last person to actually cut government? Who was the last person who actually led a movement that balanced the federal budget? Who was the person that did that?" Limbaugh asked, before singing music from the show "Jeopardy."

He continued: "You're not gonna take a guess? That's right, it was Mr. Newt! The last guy who gave us a balanced budget. Now, there are a lot of other Republicans involved...but Gingrich was Speaker. The last time this budget was - the last time there was true welfare reform, the last time government was cut, Gingrich did it."

Limbaugh has been critical of Gingrich in the past; as Ron Paul spotlighted in an ad last week, he hammered Gingrich for casting Paul Ryan's Medicare plan as "right wing social engineering," saying the comment "cuts Paul Ryan off at the knees."  

On the same show Monday, Limbaugh was repeatedly critical of Gingrich's top rival for the Republican presidential nomination, Mitt Romney.

That doesn't mean conservative radio is uniformly rallying around Gingrich, however. Conservative radio host Laura Ingraham was critical of Gingrich when he appeared on her show Monday, bringing up Gingrich's payouts from mortgage giant Freddie Mac and referencing Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn's criticisms of the former House speaker. Coburn said Sunday he found Gingrich's "leadership lacking" and suggested Gingrich is among those who have "one standard for the people they are leading and different standard for themselves."

Gingrich called into Glenn Beck's radio show Tuesday morning, and Beck set up the interview by noting he has "serious concerns" with Gingrich. Gingrich dodged a question on whether he believed humans cause global warming and was grilled by Beck on his support for the Medicare prescription drug benefit, with the host suggesting incredulously that Gingrich's position was "trying to transition to smaller government by supporting bill that has a gigantic giveaway in it."

"[O]n the drug benefit - my position is very straightforward," Gingrich said. "If you're going to have Medicare, which was created in 1965 and it was created at a time when drugs didn't matter - there weren't many breakthroughs at that point. But to take a position that 'we won't help you with insulin but we'll pay for your kidney dialysis' is both bad at a human level and bad at a financial level."

Full CBS News coverage: Newt Gingrich