Newt Gingrich speaks to reporters as he arrives for a fundraiser for Republican… (Mary Altaffer / AP Photo )
LAS VEGAS — Newt Gingrich, a onetime foe of Mitt Romney, defended his former rival’s appearance with Donald Trump at a fundraiser here Tuesday evening, despite the conservative real estate mogul’s insistence on rehashing disproved theories about the president’s birthplace.
Romney is focused on the economy, as he should be, Gingrich said, while reiterating that he and Romney believed that President Obama was born in Hawaii.
"Gov. Romney is not distracted, the Republican Party is not distracted. We believe this is an American-born, job-killing president," Gingrich said, speaking to reporters before a fundraiser at Trump International Hotel. "Other people may believe that he was born somewhere else and still kills jobs, but that's an argument over background. The key fact is for any American worried about the economy, Obama is a job-killing president."
On the night that he clinched the GOP nomination with a win in the Texas primary, Romney is appearing with Trump at two fundraisers in Las Vegas that his campaign hopes will raise $2 million. Some conservatives have argued that appearing with Trump is harmful for Romney’s prospects with the moderate voters he needs to court for the general election.
Gingrich, the former House speaker, disagreed. He said he would have had no qualms appearing alongside Trump, that the "birther" charge was not racist and that the GOP needed a wide tent that included people like Trump.
"We need everybody from the Northeast to the far West," Gingrich said. "We need people like Donald Trump, who is one of the most successful job creators in America."
When asked whether he had any advice for Trump, Gingrich demurred.
"Far be it for me to suggest to the Donald what he should do," Gingrich said. "… I just know it’s hopeless to suggest anything to him about what he should do."
Asked whether Trump was a loose cannon, Gingrich said: "No, he’s a loose entrepreneur. ... He has made his fame by being who he is."
Gingrich was in a bitter battle with Romney for the nomination but dropped out in early May, awash in nearly $5 million of debt. He has not released his delegates to his former rival, saying he would do so "when it’s appropriate."