Gingrich justifies debate performances
January 28th, 2012
03:51 PM ET
9 years ago

Gingrich justifies debate performances

Port St. Lucie, Florida (CNN) – Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich blamed rival Mitt Romney Saturday for his two lackluster debate performances this week.

“You cannot debate somebody who is dishonest. You just can’t,” Gingrich said. “People say I’m a good debater. I can’t debate somebody who won’t tell the truth.”

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Gingrich did not like the last two debates, which took place in Florida on Monday and Thursday. He said there were moments during Thursday’s CNN/Republican Party of Florida debate when he was “staring in amazement” at Romney because “I know what he is saying is untrue."

Instead of confronting Romney on stage, a tactic he’s used successfully during previous debates, Gingrich hit back the following day with a television advertisement.

The ad, “What kind of man?”, paints the former Massachusetts governor as an untrustworthy, flip-flopping politician. The spot features clips from the debate when Romney attempted to explain why he voted in a Democratic primary and denied that he knew about a misleading ad against Gingrich put out by his campaign.

The former House speaker also conceded on Friday the debate audience was another reason why he didn’t challenge Romney.

“[T]hat particular audience, it would have not worked to take him head on, so I backed down,” Gingrich said.

Pouncing on the statement later in the day, Romney quickly compared Gingrich to the indecisive character Goldilocks, saying the former House speaker couldn't decide whether he wanted debates to have silent audiences or rowdy crowds.

Gingrich said the two-time presidential candidate’s consultants need to come up with better material. After making the argument that he can’t debate Romney because he’s so "dishonest" he said, “I’d be glad to debate him any time. I would request that he tell the truth the next time we debate. That’s all I’d ask of him.”

- Follow Shawna Shepherd on Twitter: @ShepherdCNN.

Also see:

Romney: Gingrich debates complaints like 'Goldilocks'

Palin decries GOP 'cannibalism,' defends Gingrich

Romney surrogates shadow Gingrich campaign

Filed under: 2012 • Florida • Newt Gingrich
soundoff (80 Responses)
  1. rhumba

    Newt can't take the responsibility of any of his own mistakes. He's the classic narcissist. I don't think we need a president with such a narcissistic personality.He might decide to blow up some small country, and do it no matter what any of his advisors recommend. Nope. He's a dangerous man.

    January 28, 2012 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  2. TSO

    Gingrich blames his performance on Romney's alleged lying is a weak counter attack. Debating skills does not a president make and if he is struck dumb by someone stretching the truth or outright lying, he and we would be in a lot of trouble if he was the chief executive. And despite his bragging, I don't think he could out debate Obama. Newt will go lower and get down and dirty with Obama but Obama is an accomplished communicator and has spent the last four years getting verbally abused by the GOP, foreign leaders and apparently the governor of Arizona. The president of the Harvard Law Review can handle the history/geography professor.

    January 28, 2012 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  3. My name is Jose Jimenez

    Ah the pot calls the kettle black. Watching gingRICH in the last debate, it was obvious he was getting beat at his own game. Poor gingRICH is just plain exhausted from all the lies and fabrications he's been making up. It finally caught up with him, but never fear he will rise again with another infusion of Adelman money to keep the contest going to the end. After all, what does he care...none of the money is his and he will get higher speaking fees and book advances in the future.

    Romney seems to be quite comfortable with shading the truth whenever it suits his purpose. It's politics. Don't listen to what the say, look at what they've done. You'll get a pretty good idea how each one would behave if elected, which by the way isn't going to happen.

    January 28, 2012 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
  4. SecedingfromTexas

    "Gingrich justifes debate performances"
    More like – Gingrich comes up with third reason for lackluster performance in debates:
    1. The crowd was too quiet, no wait
    2. The crowd was stacked with Romney supporters, no wait
    3. "You cannot debate somebody who is dishonest" ,.....
    Never your fault, eh Newt?

    January 28, 2012 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
  5. hansdick

    That was a good chuckle. Thanks Grinch

    January 28, 2012 06:00 pm at 6:00 pm |
  6. mdn

    Newster wouldn't know the truth if it came and sat on his face.

    January 28, 2012 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
  7. Barbara

    Is this Newt whining again, like when he had to sit in the back of the presidential plane when he was the Speaker? If he was elected president is he going to whine when world leaders don't cow-tow to him?

    January 28, 2012 06:11 pm at 6:11 pm |
  8. lisaj

    This is too funny. Okay so far Romney enlisted the help of the GOP establishment. Several untruthful or misleading hit columns on Newt and Reagan came out the same day that was quickly put to rest when a clip of Nancy Reagan praising Newt was released and now there are several establishment members speaking ill of Newt consistently and not to even mention Romney having some of his surrogates attend Newt's rallies???!!! The only one that seems desperate to me is Romney. He have the money, so called organization and the establishment. Sounds like desperation to me. When a man with as much baggage as Newt has along with very limited finances and lack of organization can cause such a huge tizzy with the establishment and his opponent with the most money and can still stand tall and is still a huge threat-–that someone is a force to be reckoned with and that's letting me know that if he wins the election, a change a coming in a HUGE way! Newt's got my support and my vote.

    January 28, 2012 06:13 pm at 6:13 pm |
  9. nytw

    Newt Gingrich and Rcik Santrum will give away are freedoms and liberties to the roman empire. They will require that we worship the pope rather than God.

    January 28, 2012 06:19 pm at 6:19 pm |
  10. nytw

    How would Gingrich recognize the truth.

    January 28, 2012 06:20 pm at 6:20 pm |
  11. Hales

    I think someone needs to tell him there is no whining in politics. If you want to president you need to stop passing the blame.

    January 28, 2012 06:25 pm at 6:25 pm |
  12. din in albuquerque

    'You can't debate someone who is dishonbest???????" Newt, are you kidding me. Over three hundred ethics violations, I doubt that you told your wives what you were doing from day one. This is absolutely beyond the pale.
    Moon Mayor, the whole world better tremble the day you get elected.

    January 28, 2012 06:32 pm at 6:32 pm |
  13. Vinney47SLC

    Wow, another hypocritical comment from Gingrich. Apparently he's forgotten how in the debate ONE WEEK EARLIER he flat out lied when he told the nation "My campaign had witnesses lined up" for ABC to refute the dirty laundry his x-wife laid out for them. Turns out it was just his daughters writing a letter to the network asking them not to air the interview. I guess his expectation for honesty is only for other people, and doesn't apply to Newt himself.

    January 28, 2012 06:37 pm at 6:37 pm |
  14. SHAUNA

    Newt you may not have the $ behind you that Romney does but it does not mean you should give up now. Forge ahead we are behind you. Start eating right, sleep early at night and get a fresh start.

    January 28, 2012 06:43 pm at 6:43 pm |
  15. packerfans

    Wow Newt keep drama and Actor alway lairs and dishonest himself and not fit for President United States. We need honest the President that Mitt Romney!! Vote for Mitt Romney!!

    January 28, 2012 06:45 pm at 6:45 pm |
  16. Diana

    The Ten Commandments:

    #7. Thou shalt not commit adultery.

    Americans do not want an adulterer for President, nor an adulteress for First Lady.

    January 28, 2012 06:53 pm at 6:53 pm |
  17. bookworm

    Oh, about the pot calling the kettle black! Newt "Pinocchio"'ve been telling some whoppers yourself, and I was happy to see Ron Paul finally put an end to your "4 years of balanced budget with Regan" claim. What a sanctimonious hypocrite.

    January 28, 2012 06:54 pm at 6:54 pm |
  18. Thomas

    “You cannot debate somebody who is dishonest. You just can’t,” Gingrich said. “People say I’m a good debater. I can’t debate somebody who won’t tell the truth.”

    Then they shouldn't call it a debate, Rick , Mitt and New are all dishonest and living in denial .

    Must have been difficult for Newt , The whole crowd was Mitt Romney supporters.

    January 28, 2012 06:57 pm at 6:57 pm |
  19. Don

    Noot can't compete with somebody who lies as much as He does. Noot still hasn't figured out truth from lies in his own campaign.

    January 28, 2012 07:03 pm at 7:03 pm |
  20. My President Obama...

    We got your back!

    January 28, 2012 07:11 pm at 7:11 pm |
  21. stephanie

    Newt himself has a problem with telling the truth. He spend over 40 years of his life as a serial cheater and liar. It looks like Newt is the one that recreates history to suit himself. A man who breaks the most sacred vow on numerous occasions, lies for most of his adult life cannot be trusted to be the leader of our great nation. He broke a promise to two wives....he would break trust with the USA. Shame on his for calling Romney a liar when Newt himself wrote the book.

    January 28, 2012 07:11 pm at 7:11 pm |
  22. The GOP opens mouth and inserts foot

    And Nixon claimed he lost to Kennedy due to a bad makeup job. Yeah. Right.

    January 28, 2012 07:32 pm at 7:32 pm |
  23. Mike


    These debates sure have inspired a whole lot of companies to do a lot of hiring. They must have created 100,000 jobs.


    January 28, 2012 07:47 pm at 7:47 pm |
  24. SA Movement

    Sadly, there is no justification for this. Crumbling in the most important GOP debate to date says a lot about the presidential hopeful and I can't see how there will be any bouncing back. Being unable to defend himself against alleged dishonesty is no excuse for a lack of oratory skill in the debate that essentially determines the most crucial election in the GOP primaries. If he can't handle this; how can he handle a presidency that is certain to be riddled with lies and dishonesty on the part of others.

    January 28, 2012 07:51 pm at 7:51 pm |
  25. TR

    Newt, don't let the Republican establishment con you into being nice to Romney. Go for the throat and show everyone just how slick he is.

    January 28, 2012 07:55 pm at 7:55 pm |
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