[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/08/17/art.gingrich.buchanan.8.17.10.gi.jpg caption =" Former Republican House Speaker Newt Gingrich, left, is being criticized by conservative stalwart Pat Buchanan."]
(CNN) - Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich's latest comments regarding the controversial Islamic center near the site of the 9/11 World Trade Center attack are being called "absurd" - from no less a conservative stalwart than Pat Buchanan.
Speaking on MSNBC on Tuesday, the former presidential candidate and conservative commentator said recent comments from Gingrich likening the proposed project to the hanging of a Nazi symbol outside the Holocaust Museum were merely part of the former Speaker's efforts to appear more controversial than Sarah Palin.
"Newt is a political opportunist," Buchanan said. "What Newt is doing is he's trying to get out and be more flamboyant and more charismatic, if you will, and more controversial than Sarah Palin, who is his primary challenger, if he gets into Iowa and New Hampshire. She will take all his oxygen and a lot of his support."
Both Palin, the former vice presidential nominee, and Gingrich are thought to be among the leading Republicans considering a presidential bid next year.
Gingrich's original comments came Monday, when in an apperance on Fox News he targeted President Obama for appearing to support the proposed controversial construction near ground zero.
"Nazis don't have the right to put up a sign next to the Holocaust Museum in Washington," Gingrich said, adding, "We would never accept the Japanese putting up a site next to Pearl Harbor."
"I think bringing the Nazis into the argument is always absurd in American politics, because there is no valid comparison there," Buchanan said. "And secondly, you know, you bring that in, and that's all we start talking about. So I think Newt went too far with that comment. But I know why he's doing it."
Buchanan is no stranger to controversial statements - he's perhaps best known for his 1992 Republican National Convention speech that, among other things, derided abortion rights and the homosexual rights movement.