(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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Sun, it is very doubtful that all the bashing caused you to vote republican. You probably are like most republicans, they are voting for Romney because they don't like Obama. Deep down the republicans know Romney is not competent.
Gingrich to Romney: "Do to your wife what I did to mine."
Hey Grinch, buy a clue. Mittens didn't do anything to you. You and your life style did you in. What's the difference between Jim Baker and Gingrich? Gingrich avoided criminal charges.
Do to Obama what you did to me? You mean he's gonna give him a BJ?
My advice to Romney: change your politics. All these other fascists are pulling you down with them.
Do to Obama what you did to me? You mean... give him a B J?
Gingrich wants Mitt to be more aggressive; Sarah wants him to "go rogue." They both want him to be more like themselves, but seem to have forgotten they lost even in the primaries. Mainstream America doesn't want their brand of conservatism.
Do to Obama what you did to me? You mean... give him a knob job?
These are really vile people, I'm sick of them.
Newt did it to himself !
Just wondering. . . If Mitt gave 30% to charity, at LEAST 10% went to his church. (They require it) What sort of charitable work do the Latter Day Saints involve themselves in, other than missionary work trying to convert others, and helping out othe Latter Day Saints?
Newt Gingrich was neutered by the American people a long while ago
Newt is still full of himself in what he can do and what he has done
The only question is How far will Romney fall in the polls
game over for Mr. 47% Romney and Mr. Forcible Rape Ryan
Wow. Basically, Newt is saying "Mitt you have ZERO chance, so you might as well be a complete ass." Persecution and delusions of grandeur all in the same fat bigot.
Obama hope and change is over. He say let's go forward. Where we all go for 4 years? Not forward. Now He say let's go forward. America stay very low with this president. Everybody know it, but not say it.
Mitt is a "great" humanitarian. Give me $13 million dollars of income and I'd gladly pay
14.1% income tax after my charitable contributions.............
"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." So then he pays less and feels no one should question his qualifications? This has been typical for Mitt the "etch a sketch" in his continued foot in mouth campaign to find out what he should say to sway anyone out there ignorant enough to believe he has personal values. We all know what he believes – only the rich or repubs should vote since everyone else is on government dole.
Hey Newt, I voted for you in the primaries, one thing wrong with your statement, it was not the aggressiveness of Romney that took you down, the problem was you stopped participating.
Listen to Mr. Advise, delusional, highfaluting grifter and W.C. Fields look alike, A complete failure, will never see or sit at the desk of the Oval Office. The Republican party is losing ground and getting more desperate by the hour. America has witness first hand the obstruction and treasonous acts perpetrated by the republican leadership for the last 3.5 years and now their game plan is to point the finger at This president who at every turn beat them at their own game. And now Obama is cleaning up their mess by wiping the floors with Romney.
Maybe that stuff works among conservatives but I doubt it works to gain support among the other parties.
If I were Mit, I would tell B0 that I would trade my tax returns for your school transcripts, that is if they haven't been shredded. That's B(zero) by the way not BO.
@ann, if Gingrich can debate anyone and win. Why did Romney beat him in the post SC debates? You either didn't read the article or you didn't understand what Newt said.
Hmm... the only other person referenced in the article is Marty O'Malley- I see the media has already chosen who they want to elect in 2016.
Problem is, if he goes rogue as Palin puts it, he might have to start explaining his missing tax filings, overseas bank accounts and those 47 percent moochers victims of the system.
Why do politicians play voters for fool? I mean we all know the shape the GOP left this country in. We knoe how they obstucted in congress. To not give Obama two terms to straigten out a mess that saw some of the largest finacial firm in history fail (Lehman Brothers) is just not right. Mitt Romney only wants to be President because of his ego.:e not going to worry about most of us.
oh yeah, each lib not will crying racism after the first debate, since they don't ever do their own thinking they will be regurgitating the bs moore-on DOT org and other Soros sites tell them to.
Yeah, sacrificing our freedoms and the well being of our nation for government cheese is anti-American.