(CNN) – Amid predictions from some within the GOP ranks that Newt Gingrich has fatally harmed his presidential chances, the former House Speaker issued a full-throated apology Tuesday for leveling criticisms at Republican Rep. Paul Ryan's budget plan.
"I made a mistake and I called Paul Ryan today, who's a very close personal friend – and I said that. The fact is that I have supported what Ryan's trying to do on the budget … the budget vote is one that I am happy to say I would have voted for, I will defend, and I will answer any Democrat who attempts to distort what I said." Gingrich said Tuesday during an appearance on Fox News.
"Let me say on the record: Any ad which quotes what I said Sunday is a falsehood. I have said publicly those words were inaccurate and unfortunate. And I'm prepared to stand up, when I make a mistake – and I'm going to on occasion – I want to stand up and share with the American people that was a mistake, because that way we can have an honest conversation," he added.
The uproar stems from Gingrich's comments during an interview on NBC's "Meet the Press" Sunday, when the former House Speaker called a Medicare provision in the GOP budget proposal spearheaded by Ryan "right wing social engineering" and later indicated he supports requiring every citizen to buy health insurance or instead post a bond for insurance.
Gingrich again walked back those comments in his interview with Fox.
"I do not support a mandate," he said. "I am opposed to Obamacare and have been for the past two years."
The two comments resulted in stinging rebukes from several commentators and politicians who say the former House Speaker is undermining his party's efforts at reigning in the federal debt, but the former House speaker said he merely misspoke while mistakenly choosing to answer a "hypothetical boloney question."
Meanwhile, Gingrich spokesman Rick Tyler told CNN the uproar is largely result of Washington's "literati" who "cannot tolerate threats from outsiders who might disrupt their comfortable world."
"The firefight started when the cowardly sensed weakness. They fired timidly at first, then the sheep not wanting to be dropped from the from establishment’s cocktail party invite list unloaded their entire clip, firing without taking aim their distortions and falsehoods," Tyler said. "Now they are left exposed by their bylines and handles. But surely they had killed him off. This is the way it always worked. A lesser person could not have survived the first few minutes of the onslaught. But out of the billowing smoke and dust of tweets and trivia emerged Gingrich, once again ready to lead those who won’t be intimated by the political elite and are ready to take on the challenges America faces."
On another matter, Gingrich refused to address a story first reported by Politico that he and his wife, Callista, carried a revolving charge account between $250,001 and $500,000 in 2005 and 2006 for the Tiffany & Co. jewelry store when his wife worked as a congressional staffer.
"If it doesn't relate to solving our problems, from now on my answer's going to be, 'I'm not commenting on it,'" Gingrich said. "I'm not playing Trivial Pursuit."