CEDAR RAPIDS — Newt Gingrich on Monday said Rep. Ron Paul did not rate as a serious candidate for the White House while he called Mitt Romney a “serious person” who he said has resorted to a “level of dishonesty” in an ad-war campaign against him that would offend Romney’s own grandchildren.
Gingrich made the comments in a 50-minute-long, take-all-questions conversation with The Gazette editorial board in which Gingrich said that he will work to turn the race for the Republican nomination into a battle that pits Romney as the “Massachusetts moderate” against him, “the Southern conservative,” once the primary season shifts to the south after Tuesday’s Iowa caucuses and next week’s primary in New Hampshire.
In the wide-ranging discussion, Gingrich, a 20-year member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Georgia and a former Speaker of the House before he resigned in 1998, said he long has been a staunch supporter of ethanol; favored a 15-percent flat tax on income; would eliminate the capital-gains tax; and liked the idea of individuals having a personal Social Security-like savings accounts similar to one in use in Chile.
Gingrich said he remained a champion of a Reagan-era, tax-cutting approach called supply-side economics — what critics in the past have called “trickle-down economics” — and said he has not used “supply-side economics” in commercials because the general public isn’t sufficiently familiar with the concept.
Gingrich agreed that the White House and Congress currently are accomplishing little and he blamed it on “radicalism” on both the right and left in Congress and the “incompetence” of President Obama.
Of his own party, he said House Majority Leader John Boehner is leading a Republican Party in the House controlled by Tea Partyers and “hard-line conservatives.”
Gingrich said Washington, D.C., needed a “profound change,” and he said he, a Washington-insider “intellectually,” knows best what needs to be changed. Even so, he said he remained “psychologically an outsider” to Washington.
Asked to explain, he said, “I have no investment in their world. I don’t go to their cocktail parties, I’m not part of their social set. I couldn’t care less what their opinion is. Reagan served in Washington for eight years and never noticed he was there. And I think that’s a huge virtue.”
As for Ron Paul, Gingrich said Paul’s lack of concern about Iran obtaining a nuclear-weapon capability and his views on the legalization of drugs make him unelectable.
“So I don’t think about Ron Paul,” he said.
As for Romney and his and his supporters’ campaign ads, he said, “as a serious person, he has some responsibility to set a decent standard. And he couldn’t show these ads he’s running to his grandchildren with any sense of pride.”