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Gingrich not backing down despite back-to-back losses

February 05, 2012|By Michael J. Mishak
(Evan Vucci / Associated…)

Reporting from Las Vegas — Apparently, some people were expecting a more subdued Newt Gingrich to emerge after two straight losses in the Republican presidential campaign.

Nope.

Coming off a double-digit shellacking in Nevada, a state Mitt Romney carried in 2008, Gingrich waved off the results as expected and vowed to press on despite a lack of debates in the coming weeks that might keep him in the spotlight. He’s said he hopes to close Romney’s widening delegate lead by the Texas primary in April.

As he did after Saturday’s caucuses, Gingrich railed against Romney on two Sunday morning TV shows, attacking the former governor's record leading Massachusetts.

“He was pro-abortion, he was pro-gun control, he was pro-tax increase, he ended up third from the bottom in job creation,” Gingrich repeated on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

The former House speaker depicted himself as the conservative candidate who could offer the biggest contrast with President Obama and argued that Romney would take a “timid approach” to the economy. Gingrich promoted his plans to eliminate the capital gains tax, offer an optional 15% flat income tax and allow Social Security savings accounts for young workers.

“The difference between timidly trying to manage at the margins a system that has to be profoundly changed and boldly taking it on is a very, very big difference,” Gingrich said. “And I don’t think a timid approach is going to beat Obama this fall. … My goal is to actually bring government down to the revenue level, not raise revenue to catch up with Obama’s spending.”

Still, if he fails to win the GOP nomination, he vowed to support whoever does.

Gingrich also bashed the Obama administration for its decision to require even church-affiliated employers to cover birth control, regardless of their religious principles. On “Face the Nation,” he described the move as declaring war on the Catholic Church – “the most outrageous assault on religious liberty in American history.”

The administration's decision means religious institutions, he said, “will have to be subordinated to the rules of a secular government.”

Gingrich has repeatedly wielded religion as a cudgel in recent days, perhaps to further differentiate himself from Romney, a Mormon who has focused mainly on his business background.

On “Meet the Press,” he was asked about his outspoken support for the space program, which “Saturday Night Live” lampooned with a skit depicting Gingrich as the “moon president.”

“This was not some slip,” Gingrich said of his remarks. “This was a deliberate effort to start a conversation at a time when the Chinese, the Indians and the Russians are aggressively moving into space and we are bureaucratically mired down in red tape, spending billions of dollars without making very much progress. I’m not for a gigantic federal tax-paid program. I’m for dramatic reform of the current program.”

michael.mishak@latimes.com

Ashley Powers contributed to this report.

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