(CNN) – Newt Gingrich, speaking outside an event raising money for presumptive GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney, said the event's host, Donald Trump, was not distracting the Republican Party with his questions about the president's birth certificate.
"Gov. Romney's not distracted," Gingrich said in Las Vegas. "The Republican Party's not distracted. We believe that this is an American-born job-killing president. Other people may believe that he was born somewhere else and still kills jobs, but that's an argument over background."
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Gingrich's comments came as Romney and Trump convened with campaign donors at Trump's International Hotel on the Las Vegas Strip for a fundraising event that was expected to bring in millions of dollars for the presumptive GOP nominee. Romney has been under pressure from Democrats to condemn Trump for his questioning of President Barack Obama's place of birth.
Gingrich, who battled Romney for the GOP nomination before dropping his bid in April, said he personally believed President Obama was born in Hawaii, and is thus constitutionally eligible to be president, and that the focus should remain on the president's jobs creation record.
Asked if the so-called "birther" conspiracy had racist undertones, Gingrich pointed to other African-American politicians who do not face similar lines of questioning.
"I know that there is a desperate need to attach racism to everything, but in fact I think that Donald Trump said what he said because he thinks that it's the right thing for him to say," Gingrich said.
He continued, "Nobody runs around and asks whether Col. [Allen] West was born in the United States. He's an African-American, you know. He's a congressman. Nobody runs around and says was Tim Scott born in the United States. He's a congressman. He's an African-American. So the idea of asserting that any charge against Obama somehow manages magically in the media to get back to racism, I think it is just one more device to protect Obama."
Gingrich said he wasn't about to suggest to Trump what he should and shouldn't say. Asked if Trump was a "loose cannon," Gingrich quipped the celebrity business magnate was a "loose entrepreneur."
"He has made his fame by being who he is," Gingrich said.
CNN's Kevin Liptak contributed to this report.