Des Moines, Iowa (CNN) - The college professor who's running for president put out an instructional message for Rick Perry, Mitt Romney, Michele Bachmann and the other Republican presidential candidates: Stop the "seventh grade recess" fighting and "get over it."
"I have one opponent: Barack Obama," said Newt Gingrich Thursday evening at the Iowa GOP headquarters in Des Moines. "And frankly, I wish some of my good friends – especially the ones who have the most money – would adopt a little more of Reagan's 11th commandment and get over it," Gingrich added, referring to the 40th president's oft-quoted rule that Republicans shouldn't speak ill of other Republicans.
"There shouldn't be a seventh grade recess argument. Because the media loves it. Every time we fight, we're not hurting Obama."
Gingrich made the comments during a question-and-answer exchange with the friendly Republican crowd gathered at the Iowa GOP's base of operations just across the street from the state capitol. The former House Speaker began the meeting by reiterating the points of his new "21st Century Contract with America" that he'd unveiled just hours before.
That Gingrich urged his fellow presidential contenders toward civility is not new. In the NBC News/Politico debate earlier this month, the audience applauded Gingrich for advising fellow debaters not to play into what he likened to a well-laid trap from the news media.
"I for one, I hope all of my friends up here, are going to repudiate every effort of the news media to get Republicans to fight each other to protect Barack Obama who deserves to be defeated," Gingrich said in response to a question regarding a health care individual mandate.
But what appears bolder now is the tone of Gingrich's language: Instead of simply advising that Perry, Romney, Bachmann and the others not harshly criticize each other, Gingrich now seems to acknowledge the ongoing political combat, uses strong language to admonish it, even invokes a Reagan rule revered by many Republicans.
Gingrich explained further: "I'd like to see a campaign in which we offer, each of us, our strengths. And we each offer our solutions. And then, in our team, you know, people in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and so forth are all going to make a choice. One of us will end up the nominee, in all probability. But we should do it in a way that we could all rally on the same team. Defeat Obama and his team [in the] Senate, House, et cetera."
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