With his recent rise in the polls, Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich is crisscrossing the nation with a message that he is the conservative alternative to Mitt Romney. But in another season of his life, Gingrich carried out a very different mission: promoting moderates.
At a 2004 event sponsored by the Republican Main Street Partnership, a coalition of centrist lawmakers, Gingrich touted his openness to candidates that don't toe the conservative line and condemned hardliner groups such as the influential small-government PAC Club for Growth for refusing to endorse candidates that they thought veered too far to the center.
"Everywhere I've been, I've argued in favor of electing the moderates," Gingrich said in 2004, according to a report in Bloomberg Businessweek at the time.
Instead of focusing efforts only on electing conservatives, Gingrich argued that the party should be more open to Republicans with different views.
"The key is to elect more Republicans and have a bigger majority and be more inclusive," he said.
Now, it seems, Gingrich has shifted his focus away from promoting Republicans with moderate pasts. He has increased his criticism of Romney in recent days, framing him as a candidate who isn't fit to lead a party of conservatives.
"We think there has to be a solid conservative alternative to Mitt Romney," Gingrich said during an interview with a South Carolina radio station this week. "I'm the one candidate who can bring together national security conservatives, and economic conservatives, and social conservatives in order to make sure we have a conservative nominee."
A spokesman from Gingrich's campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
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