Spinners and Winners
Newt Gingrich says he believes the super rich have an unfair advantage in American politics, but he also tells Spinners & winners that he urged his wealthiest supporter to give millions to the cause of electing Mitt Romney President.
Spinners and Winners caught up with the former Speaker of the House at the National Zoo in Washington, D.C., where he weighed in on presumptive nominee Mitt Romney's strengths and weaknesses, the unavoidable role of money in politics, and another of his great passions: zoo animals.
First, on politics.
Romney's "biggest weakness is gonna be the tendency of the consultants to say play it safe," warned Gingrich. But if Romney stays on offense, Gingrich argued, Obama could lose by a "surprising margin."
When Romney was his foe during the primary battle, however, Gingrich called him a liar and a Massachusetts moderate -- attacks he maintains did not go over the line.
"It was a very tough primary, and we fought each other. I threw the kitchen sink at him, he threw a bigger kitchen sink at me," said Gingrich.
Gingrich defended the harsh attack ads against Romney's record at Bain Capital released by a SuperPAC supporting the former speaker.
"They're legitimate questions you can ask, and I think you should be able to ask about anybody, whether it's Newt Gingrich or Mitt Romney or, you know, Rick Santorum, or, you know, anybody who's running for president," said Gingrich.
Hurling attacks at Romney would have been difficult for Gingrich's cash-strapped campaign were it not for the help of a SuperPAC backed by billionaire casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, who along with his wife gave some $25 million to the pro-Gingrich Super PAC that ran viscously negative ads.
"We're in a situation where if you're really rich, you have an enormous, and I think unfair, advantage," Gingrich told us. "The trick is not to cripple the rich, the trick is to empower the middle class."
Gingrich attributed his own loss in the Republican primary to Romney's overwhelming financial advantage.
"In the end, he had, I think, sixteen billionaires and we had one," Gingrich said.
Now Gingrich says he has encouraged Adelson to give generously to Romney. The casino mogul recently did just that, giving $10 million to the pro-Romney group Restore Our Future -- the single largest contribution, by far, to the group.
"Look, I've told my supporters, this is the most important election of our lifetime," Gingrich said. "Any conservative who sits on the sidelines is helping re-elect Barack Obama, and I think an Obama second term, for our values, would be a nightmare."
As for animals, Gingrich explained his love for zoos (he's visited over 100 of them around the world) and why he likes elephants so much.
"Elephants are among my favorites, partly because I'm Republican and partly because I'm big. Elephants make me feel like I'm the right size," said Gingrich. "They're very smart animals."
Check out this week's Spinners and Winners for more of Newt Gingrich at the zoo -- including the cabinet position he would most want in a Romney administration.