Newt Gingrich won’t say if Mitt Romney is a conservative

Chris Moody
Political Reporter
The Ticket

Emboldened by the strongest poll numbers since he launched his presidential campaign, Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich made several veiled swipes at former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who is currently tied with Gingrich, according to a new CBS News poll.

On Friday, Gingrich wouldn't say outright if he thought Romney is not a conservative, but suggested as much in a radio interview.

"I'll let the voters decide that," Gingrich said on Laura Ingraham's radio show when asked about Romney's conservative bona-fides.  "Remember, Mitt Romney right now in the CBS poll is at 15 percent. I'm at 15 percent. The 85 percent who have not chosen Mitt Romney, who have known him now for five years, I think are looking for a conservative activist who will stand firm and who will fight to change Washington."

"There's no point in beating Obama with somebody who is confused about who they are and what they believe," Gingrich went on to say later in the interview.

"I assume that's Romney," Ingraham replied. "That has to be Romney, who are you referring to?"

"I'm saying that as a general principle," he said. "You want somebody who is a solid conservative who can win."

In debates and public appearances throughout the primary season, Gingrich has been made a concerted effort to avoid attacking other Republicans by typically diverting any questions about rival candidates to a discussion about President Obama. But now that he's beginning to poll in double digits, we may start to see a Gingrich campaign that plays a bit more offense against his current rivals.

While Gingrich insists he's continuing to focus exclusively on Obama, he seems happy to remind voters--at least subtly--about Romney's tendency to change his position. (Of course, Gingrich has his own personal flip-flop issues, so he will need to be careful not to push too hard.)

"I'm not going to pick a fight with Mitt Romney," Gingrich said when asked if Romney was a man of "seriousness and constancy," a line Romney used in Tuesday's debate. "I think the evidence is overwhelming, I think it exists on video tape. I think Mitt's the one who has the challenge here . . . .My challenge is very different. [It] isn't to fight Romney, my challenge is to fight Barack Obama."

You can listen to the Ingraham interview here:

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