HAMILTON, Ohio - Newt Gingrich avoided criticizing Rush Limbaugh for publicly assailing Sandra Fluke over her testimony to Congress advocating for health insurance companies to cover birth control, but he was quick to attack President Obama, saying he acted "opportunistically" when he called the Georgetown Law student to express his disappointment in Limbaugh's comments.
"I think the president will opportunistically do anything he can," Gingrich said after a rally at the Back Porch Saloon. "I think the most important use of language in the last week has been the president's apology to religious fanatics, and I want to stay focused on what the president has said, and I think what he said was inexcusable and is exactly the wrong policy at a time of life and death, and playing political games is irrelevant as far as I'm concerned."
After Limbaugh took to his radio show and called Fluke a "slut" for her stance on contraception, Obama phoned the woman Friday afternoon to extend his support.
Asked if thinks contraception will continue to be an issue in the presidential campaign, Gingrich said the problem is infringement on religious liberty, not contraception.
"It's about the attack on the Catholic Church and the attack on every right to life institution and whether or not the government has the power to dictate to religious organizations," he said.
Gingrich, who is devoting his time and resources to winning the Georgia primary, made his final and lone trip to Ohio this week, three days before the Tuesday primary. Despite spending little time in the state in the lead up to Super Tuesday, Gingrich remained confident he could pick up delegates in Ohio.
Without naming him by name, Gingrich referenced Rick Santorum's inability to sign up the necessary delegates in several Ohio congressional districts, which poses a problem for Santorum, who will be unable to receive the delegates from those districts even if he wins the vote in those districts. Gingrich said he sees Santorum's delegate debacle as an opportunity for his own campaign to win more delegates in the Ohio battle.
"We want to get as many delegates as we can, and obviously we see real opportunities here," he said. "We think in a number of places where we have filed delegates and some other folks haven't, and so we have a chance to actually pick up a good number of delegates."
Campaigning in southwest Ohio, an area that was ravaged by tornadoes Friday, which claimed at least two lives in towns within 30 miles of Cincinnati, which is just south of H Hamilton, Gingrich did not mention the devastation during his speech but extended his condolences to the families who lost loved ones in Ohio, Indiana and Kentucky after a question from ABC News.
"It's a terrible thing and I think all of us should keep people in our prayers. Callista and I have been praying for all the families in all four states that have lost people to the tornadoes," he said. "We're very excited to be here, but as I just mentioned, we also recognize that this is a time of mourning and a time when people should have families in their prayers who have lost loved ones across a four-state area. This is a tremendously devastating period for the tornadoes."
Later on Saturday, Gingrich is scheduled to participate in a forum hosted by Mike Huckabee, make remarks at an National Rifle Association meeting in Findlay, and speak at the Ohio 5th Congressional District Lincoln-Reagan Day Dinner at Bowling Green State University.