Newt Gingrich speaks as his wife Callista Gingrich listens during a campaign… (Joe Raedle / Getty Images )
Reporting from St. Petersburg, Fla. — Newt Gingrich on Tuesday accused GOP rival Mitt Romney of spinning falsehoods during the debate the previous evening and continued to bash Romney's record as being too similar to President Obama's.
"As governor of Massachusetts, he was pro-abortion, pro-gay rights, pro-tax increase and pro-gun control," Gingrich told more than 100 voters gathered at the Tick Tock diner. "That makes him a moderate in Massachusetts, it makes him pretty liberal in a Republican primary."
Gingrich is surging in Florida and is coming off the Monday night debate in Tampa, where none of the candidates delivered any fatal blows. He grew irritated during the face-off over what he said were untruths that Romney was arguing about his time as House speaker and his work for Freddie Mac, a point he reiterated Tuesday when he was introduced at the packed restaurant.
"I discovered that Romney has a new debate coach whose specialty is to say as many untrue things as fast as you can," Gingrich said. "You get them all into one or two quick statements. I thought it was kind of wild."
In response, the Romney campaign said it was Gingrich who wasn't being honest.
"Speaker Gingrich has demonstrated that he can’t tell the truth about his unprecedented ethics reprimand, his resignation in disgrace at the hands of his own party, and his work as a highly paid Washington lobbyist for Freddie Mac," said Ryan Williams, a Romney spokesman.
On a day when the political universe is focused on the release of Romney's tax returns and the president's State of the Union speech, Gingrich broke no new ground, instead reiterating his usual calls for voters to support him as the best GOP candidate to take on Obama.
Gingrich repeated his pledge, always popular among Republican crowds, that if he is the GOP nominee, he will challenge Obama to seven three-hour debates with a timekeeper but no moderator, and that if the president refused, Gingrich would follow him across the nation, delivering speeches four hours after the president speaks.
"The White House will be my scheduler," he said to cheers. "I will answer his speech, take apart the logic and rebut the falsehoods."
Gingrich said his goal was to show the American people the great gap – as wide as the Pacific Ocean – between his philosophy and Obama's.
"I'm not so interested in trying to tear Obama down as I am in trying to get the country to see clearly who he is," Gingrich said. "The country should decide. If you want to go this route, and if you think this is a good future, and you think Saul Alinsky understands America better than the founding fathers, and you think he understands the world better than I do and if you think that actually we don't have any real enemies, just moments of confusion between people who have always loved us, then you ought to be for Obama."