Newt Gingrich capped a day of sparring with Mitt Romney with an extensive, cerebral conversation with the head of a local think tank. Leaving stage, however, when reporters pressed him on his more genteel event, Gingrich gladly resumed the verbal fisticuffs.
“Governor Romney basically accommodated liberalism in Massachusetts," Gingrich said. "He just added a bigger bureaucracy through 'RomneyCare' and he appointed liberal judges to placate the Democrats. He accepted policies that were pretty liberal, like tax-paid abortion and putting Planned Parenthood, the largest abortion provider in the United States, on their state board with nobody on that board from Right-to-Life.”
That said, Gingrich said he thought there was an “obvious comparison" built into his conversation with Charlie Arlinghaus, president of the Josiah Bartlett Center for Public Policy. The two had a one-on-one interview before an audience at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics.
"I did effectively help change Washington twice, once working with Ronald Reagan in the '80s and then as Speaker in the '90s,” Gingrich said.
A negative ad campaign based on lies from one of Romney's Super PACs seriously hurt Gingrich in Iowa, the former House Speaker said, but he plans to keep his blows above the belt and base his jabs on the facts of their records.
“It's a choice, you can choose someone who's a very experienced old-blooded conservative, a Reagan Conservative, or you can pick someone who is a Massachusetts Moderate. The choice is very vivid.”
When pressed about electability however, Gingrich was not afraid to deal a couple blows to another opponent of his. He called U.S. Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, a “national security threat.”
“He would be a tremendous danger to the country,” Gingrich told several reporters, reiterating comments he made during his discussion with Arlinghaus.
“I disagree with [Romney], I don't think he'd be very effective, I think Washington would absorb him. But, he'd be better than Barack Obama. Barack Obama is an active disaster. Romney would not be an active disaster, I just don't think he'd get very much done. But, Ron Paul is different. I think with Ron Paul we run a very genuine risk of national security.”
Right off the bat during their conversation, Arlinghaus asked Gingrich if it would be fair to say he'd be willing to support any of his opponents.
“I would find it virtually impossible to support Ron Paul,” Gingrich said. “I think anybody who believes that an Iranian nuclear weapon is not a mortal threat to the United States should not be elected.”
Gingrich added that was not to say he would vote for Obama if Paul became the nominee, but he'd find an “alternative” to supporting Paul.
It's imperative Obama not be re-elected, he said, because "eight years of Obama will be so radical and so destructive I think it would truly reshape the country."
Gingrich and Arlinghaus spent an hour talking about Gingrich's past successes in Washington with Presidents Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton, his positions on health care and Social Security, and the importance of balancing the budget.
When asked why the budget cannot be balanced today, he said Obama and Bush have not been strict enough.
Gingrich said for much of American history it was culturally unacceptable to borrow money, but once that changed, and once you accept a deficit and you're already going to borrow $100 billion, "what's the next $100 million?"
Having a balanced budget amendment is a device to re-establish a culture to not spend more than you take in, Gingrich said. He said to balance the budget you have to use all the tools given to you as president, you have to exercise independent judgment and he would be willing to veto his own party.
“And by the way, I love what you did here in New Hampshire,” Gingrich said. “I've been telling people all over the place, I love the idea you'd have the Ways and Means report first, have them set the amount you're allowed to spend based on revenue and then write the budget to the income rather than trying to write the income to the budget. I mean it's really, it's an insight of genius I think and it changes the whole dynamic of how you write a budget and I hope it will spread across the whole country and we're going to take it to Washington.”