Newt Gingrich greets supporters during a visit to the Great Basin Brewing… (Stan Honda / AFP/Getty Images )
Reporting from Reno, Nev. — Newt Gingrich, coming off a bad loss to Mitt Romney in the Florida primary, pummeled his rival for the GOP nomination Wednesday for saying earlier in the day that he was focused on the middle class and was not “concerned about the very poor” because they have a safety net.
“I am fed up with politicians in either party dividing Americans against each other,” Gingrich said, speaking to hundreds of supporters packed into the Great Basin Brewing Co. here. “I am running to be the president of all of the American people, and I am concerned about all of the American people. ... My goal is to find steps for every American to have a job, every American to work, every American to be able to buy a house. I believe that America was founded on the dream that we are in fact created equal and we have a chance to go out and have a chance to pursue happiness.”
Gingrich also criticized Romney’s support for tying increases in the minimum wage to inflation, saying such a move would be “dangerous.”
Gingrich is limping into Nevada after a double-digit loss to Romney in Florida. He tried to paint his second-place finish in a sunny light.
“I think I surprised some people last night,” he said. “Considering we were outspent 5 to 1, I was actually very, very delighted.”
He said he carried the majority of counties in the state and won the conservative, evangelical and tea party votes. (Exit polling, however, showed Romney edged Gingrich among voters who identify with the tea party and that the former House speaker barely won the evangelical vote.)
Gingrich added that financial disclosures filed Tuesday showed that 97% of his 160,000 contributors donated less than $250, a sign that his campaign was fueled by the people.
“We’re going to take people power against money power in this campaign,” he said. “I don’t believe Gov. Romney can afford to outspend us 5 to 1 in every place in the country.”
Speaking to reporters after the rally, Gingrich acknowledged that Romney had a “big advantage” in Nevada, dating back to his decisive 2008 victory here. But he pushed back against notions that he had written off the state, driven by a reported canceled meeting Wednesday with popular GOP Gov. Brian Sandoval and a light campaign schedule.
Gingrich said events would be added to his schedule and that the meeting with Sandoval did not take place because it conflicted with the Reno rally.
“I’m not going to turn down hundreds of people to run to Carson City,” Gingrich said, adding that they were trying to find a time that worked for the governor and the campaign. “I’d love to see him and chat with him.”
Gingrich also said he did not know what Donald Trump was planning to announce in Las Vegas on Thursday and that he had not had any contact with him since a meeting a few weeks ago in New York.
“I have no idea what the Donald is going to do,” Gingrich said. “He is always interesting, and I don't know of anybody who does a better job of getting attention by announcing that he will presently announce something.”