(CNN) - Newt Gingrich on Friday urged Mitt Romney to go after President Barack Obama in next month's debates with a gusto the former House speaker knows well.
"When he walks in to debate Obama, he's got to be as tough with Obama as he was with me in Florida," Gingrich said in an interview on CNN's "Piers Morgan Tonight."
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After all, Gingrich said, Romney "is not in a competition to be likeable."
At two debates in Florida last January amidst their bitter struggle for the GOP presidential nomination, Romney lit into Gingrich.
The two entered the Florida primary locked up in the polls. But after some heavy stumping - and arguably some debate thumping - Romney emerged on top in the vote count, beating Gingrich by 14 points and claiming the state's delegate haul.
With Romney trailing Obama in favorability, Gingrich encouraged Romney to play aggressively on the debate stage. The most recent CNN/ORC International Poll of likely voters, conducted earlier this month after the conclusion of both conventions, showed Obama with a 9 point advantage over Romney in their respective favorability ratings.
"He's in a competition to be capable," Gingrich said. "We need somebody who can turn America around. We need him to convince us that a Romney recovery is better than an Obama stagnation. Unless he can do that, I don't care how much effort they spend trying to make him likeable - it won't work.
Appearing separately on the program, Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley argued that Obama has produced more than stagnation.
"I think the polls show overwhelmingly that most of us understand that the wrecking of our economy was the result of policies that were inflicted upon us during the Bush years," he said. "We've now had 30 months in a row of positive private sector job growth. Foreclosures are now lower than they were before President Obama took office. And while we still have a lot of work to do, we are headed in a much better direction than we were the day he took that oath."
In the interview, Gingrich also responded an apparent contrast between Romney's comments that he had not - and would be disqualified from the presidency if - he paid more in his taxes than he owed, and his campaign's acknowledgement that he could have paid less had he reported all of his charitable giving.
"I don't pay more than are legally due and frankly if I had paid more than are legally due, I don't think I'd be qualified to become president," Romney said in a July interview. "I'd think people would want me to follow the law and pay only what the tax code requires."
But documents released Friday showed the Republican presidential nominee reported on his 2011 tax return that approximately 16% of his income went to charity, while his campaign said the actual amount was 30%.
Gingrich initially laughed and took a swipe at Vice President Joe Biden, charging that the vice president ought to then "resign this evening because he has said enough different goofy things over time that you couldn't possibly remain vice president."
Then, Gingrich described Romney's charitable giving as a credit to the GOP candidate.
"I think it is a good thing for Romney," Gingrich said. "Apparently he's done this his whole life, to have a very substantial donation process for charities, for his church, and for things he wants to do voluntarily as a citizen. That's also a kind of self-tax to keep civilized society moving."
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Watch Piers Morgan Live weeknights 9 p.m. ET. For the latest from Piers Morgan click here.
Newt, the most corrupt and morally bankrupt person giving advice to Romney about being likable. Romney is dont just like Newt.
Problem is, he's neither likeable or competent.
Romney lies even about charity. A couple of months ago Romney said he would not be qualified to be president if he had paid more taxes than legally required, but he just admitted that he gave more money to charity than he reported on the 2011 return and could have had more deductions. Where are the rest of your tax returns, Mitt? Can you provide details on your tax plan?
That's right Mitt , come out and hit him hard like you did me . Ask him about his over due 200,000 Tiffany's bill.
Newt G , " The Brain That Wouldn't Die ".
Forget it Newt, the people have already spoken and they did not want you as the GOP nominee. By now you should have been on the moon. No matter what advice you or any one else gives Romney people are not stupid. The GOP's ideology is backward and it will not work if this country is to move forward.
Newtie is right for with the one that thing: I don't care how much effort they spend in trying to make him likable it won't be work.!
Um Newt, you called Romney out for lying during the debates. And in case you haven't noticed, that's Romney's MO during the general election. It's not working. Romney needs to get specific and tell America his detailed plans. Waiting for congress to work out the details is no different from Obama's approach to leading from behind.
It has wicked and clandestine meaning–this idiot mitt needs to understand. Obama12.
Oh my goodness... at several points in their debates, I thought they were going to start making out.
Yes Governor, do what you did to Newt and basically kiss and love him. Sheesh.
LOL – Newt, he just stood by while you self destructed. Which, btw, is exactly what Obama gets to do with the Romney campaign – LOL, LOL!!! You're no Obama, Doughboy!!!!
There you are Grinchy. Willard is toast. I know you're getting desperate but even you should see it.
Gingrich is a proven crook....his sort are easier to defeat than opponents with integrity
Taxpayer to Gingrich: we'll do to Romney what Bain did to us.
What else did u expect from Gingrich ?
......."we are headed in a much better direction than we were the day he took that oath". This will tell the Entire Nation-you know this and vote. Yes, as of my pride for THIS president. Yes, stamp on OBAMA12. Period.
I heard the thought of debating President Obama gives Gov. Romney the creeps.I guess Newt's just trying to boost his morale.Poor Romney.
They are reduced to begging Mitt the twit at this point. Mitt the twit is not qualified to be President
Uhhhh. Newt, it was pretty easy to shut you down because you are not very competent. Even the GOP chose Romney over you. That should clue you in to how weak a candidate you were.
Newt, take another intense look at the videos showing “Mitt in action” and keep on dreaming!
You were such an easier target.
Oh, New is at it again. Someone must tell him that he cannot compare himself to President Obama.The President is an intelligent, civilized, well-mannered, well spoken statesman. Newt is a self serving clown than Romeny did not have to destroy, he did it himself. He arrogance knows no boundaries.
Romney had a little help from the party leadership, to accomplish that.
Newt was always the statesman in the room, and should have been the candidate of choice.
No Mr. Gingrich, you and Obama are the same, Obama never had three marriages, nor Obama works for banks
as lobbyist. He never proposed an open marriage. These were the things Rush and PAC supporting Mitt used
to defeat you. So you analogy is wrong and will not work
The debate between Romney and Obama will be boring...they will try to out statesman each other and be eloquent. Now, the debate between Joe and Lyin Ryan...that is going to be fun...Biden was forced to put on kid gloves with Palin and he was constantly schooled in being mannerly...with Lyin Ryan...he gets to pull no punches! That will be the great debate!