Newt Gingrich: ‘Iowa Is Going to Be a Challenge’

As Republican presidential candidates Michele Bachmann and Rick Perry ride across the long stretches of corn-filled highways on their bus tours this weekend, Newt Gingrich is leaving the state Iowa and going to Washington, D.C., just a couple of weeks before the state's caucus.

Gingrich is currently polling as the winner in Iowa and defended his weekend of no campaigning today in Iowa City, Iowa.

"We're here now and tomorrow," Gingrich said. "We'll be back again early next week and we'll be here starting the 27th. We'll have our very own bus to match their buses."

Gingrich has one ad running in the state and the campaign is planning more, but Gingrich's financial resources still do not match that of other campaigns, though his campaign has been holding fundraisers consistently since his rise in the polls. Tuesday night, Gingrich attended a private fundraiser in Washington, D.C.

"Look, I've never suggested to have the kind of money that some of my competitors are able to raise. We're not going to have as many ads as they have, but we get a fair amount of earned media," Gingrich said.

Though Gingrich appears to have the state swayed his direction in the polls, he admitted winning Iowa will depend upon groundwork laid in the next two weeks.

"I think Iowa is going to be a challenge," he said. "You have everybody firing away in a relatively small market. And so I think it's going to require two weeks of my going around telling the truth, letting people look at the negative ad, look at the truth, and decide: Do they really want to give their vote to somebody who's not telling the truth?"

One candidate with a strong base in Iowa is Ron Paul. Today, Paul laughed at a positive campaign letter Gingrich released to his staff Monday, but Gingrich would not respond specifically to Paul and only said Paul was a serious contender in Iowa.

"Look, he's a very formidable opponent," Gingrich said. "And in a caucus state he has a very significant ability to turn out votes. I take him very seriously."

Mitt Romney did not stand down on Gingrich attacks today in the media, telling The New York Times that Gingrich is "zany," and CBS News that he is "wealthy." 

"I understand what their consultants are doing, and I'm frankly taking the gamble that Americans want to see them solve problems, not just beat each other up."

Gingrich told Sean Hannity this morning on the radio that Romney and his consultants were able to "successfully bait him in the wrong direction" over the last two days. Gingrich responded to Romney's attacks on Monday in New Hampshire, saying he would give back his Freddie Mac money as Romney suggested on "Fox and Friends" if Romney gave back "all the money he's earned on bankrupting companies and laying off employees over his years."

Today, Gingrich sidestepped ABC News' question asking about his being "baited" so easily by the Romney campaign and whether that could translate to other areas of his candidacy.

"That's a part of a campaign. They baited me for a day," Gingrich said.

Gingrich will campaign Thursday in Iowa and will leave the state for private family events on Friday.