Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich says it’s “not negative” to say he could not vote for Ron Paul if Paul wins the 2012 GOP nomination.
During an interview on CNN Tuesday, Gingrich said Paul’s “total record” showed a “systemic avoidance of reality.” During an interview this morning in Mason City, Gingrich said he hasn’t broken his pledge to be positive on the campaign trail.
“When I listen to a candidate say that he doesn’t care if the Iranians get nuclear weapons, I really feel on behalf of every young person in America, I have to speak up and say, ‘This would be terrifyingly dangerous,'” Gingrich said during an interview with KGLO Radio. “I was just responding to the specific question.”
In early December Gingrich told reporters in Des Moines that he would run a “relentlessly positive” campaign and today in Iowa Gingrich touted the “positive ads” his campaign is running on Iowa T-V and radio stations. As for his recent, rather pointed remarks about rivals, Gingrich put it this way: “If you’re commenting on somebody’s publicly-stated position, it’s hardly being negative.”
Gingrich specifically cited Paul’s comments during recent televised debates about Iran’s desire for a nuclear weapon and the danger Iranians might pose in the U.S.
“I helped create, with President Clinton, the Hart-Rudman Commission,” Gingrich said. “I served for three years on the Hart-Rudman Commission, which looked at national security. We said the greatest threat to the United States is a weapon of mass destruction going off in an American city, probably by a terrorist group.”
According to Gingrich, a Ron Paul victory in Iowa’s Caucuses would “shake people’s faith” in Iowa’s lead-off position in the presidential selection process.
“I think people would say, ‘Wait a second, how can somebody with his background win the Caucuses?'” Gingrich said. “…As a protest figure, he makes some sense, but I think as a potential president…the number one job as a president is to be commander-in-chief…I don’t think the United States is going to elect somebody as president someone who doesn’t think an Iranian nuclear weapon is dangerous.”
Gingrich is in the middle of a three-day, 12-city swing through northern Iowa.
(Reporting by Bob Fisher of KGLO Radio in Mason City)