Newt Gingrich said today that Mitt Romney was the reason for his poor performance in the most recent Republican presidential debate — but not the former Massachusetts governor’s rhetorical skills or command of the issues.
“You cannot debate somebody who is dishonest. You just can’t,” he said. “The people say I’m a good debater. I can’t debate somebody who won’t tell the truth.”
Gingrich said he admittedly backed down at Thursday’s debate. He went back and watched the last two debates and was not happy with either one of them.
“A couple scenes you can go back and replay, I’m staring in amazement. I know what he’s saying is untrue. And I also know that in that particular audience it would not have worked to take him head on,” Gingrich said.
Gingrich said there was “no practical way” to deal with somebody who is willing to say something “totally dishonest.” Gingrich used the example of Romney denying he voted for Democrat Paul Tsongas in a Democratic primary.
The Romney campaign has rejected Gingrich’s claims that Romney was lying.
On Tuesday, Gingrich scored record crowds in Sarasota and Naples, with thousands turning out to his events, but since the debate Thursday, Gingrich’s crowds have dwindled in some parts of the state.
Today in Orlando, Gingrich held a Latino town hall meeting where a crowd of about 50 to 75 people was in attendance. Later in the evening, Gingrich attended a conservative forum at a church in Winter Park, with a large enthusiastic crowd and received several standing ovations in a crowd that also included Rick Santorum supporters.
Gingrich spokesman R.C. Hammond told ABC News the small crowd size at the Latino forum was what they were expecting. While Gingrich was shaking hands with the few who attended, he told one attendee the “crowd was big enough.”
Three days before the Florida primary, Gingrich said he believes he will win the nomination.
“I will go all the way to the convention,” the former House speaker said. “I expect to win the nomination.”
Gingrich was asked if he will continue on in the primary election regardless of what happens in Florida.
“You just had two national polls that showed me ahead,” Gingrich said. “Why don’t you ask Gov. [Mitt] Romney what he will do if he loses, since he is behind in both national polls.”