Newt backs former rival Romney in Virginia

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Photo - (Washington Examiner file photo)
(Washington Examiner file photo)
Local,Virginia,Steve Contorno

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich on Monday dismissed his own past criticisms of Republican presidential contender and one-time rival Mitt Romney as he took part in a nationwide attack on President Obama's credentials as a job creator.

Gingrich, who dropped out of the presidential race in May and withheld an endorsement of Romney at the time, stopped by an Arlington electronics store Monday to bash Obama on Romney's behalf for telling business owners that they "didn't build" their own businesses. The Romney campaign held similar events in 11 other states.

"The longer this argument goes on the better it is for Romney," said Gingrich, a Northern Virginia resident.

Outside the event, Virginia Del. Charniele Herring, D-Alexandria, said Republicans misconstrued Obama's "you didn't build this" remarks and that Obama meant that everyone relies on government to some extent.

"He understands what it takes to make a business and it's long-term investments in infrastructure and highways and investments in education," she said.

Gingrich shrugged off that interpretation.

"The Obama position is if you drive on a public highway you automatically owe something?" Gingrich said. "It verges on silly."

Though he was appearing on behalf of Romney, Gingrich was hit with questions about an Op-Ed article he wrote in Politico supporting Rep. Michele Bachmann's claim that a Muslim woman working for Secretary of State Hillary Clinton could have ties to a terrorist group bent on infiltrating the U.S. government. Republican leaders denounced Bachamnn's remarks as insensitive, ill-informed and potentially distracting for Romney.

"I was trying to put into context why we should be raising questions about the kind of influences that are shaping our foreign policies," Gingrich said. "Why are we so resistant to asking honest, tough questions about the Muslim Brotherhood?"

Gingrich, who during the primary attacked Romney for not publicly disclosing more of his tax returns, dismissed the issue now that Democrats are using it against the Republican contender.

"I think the results of the primary indicated the American voters are pretty comfortable that this is a guy that has good accountants and good lawyers," Gingrich said.

Gingrich also talked about his one-time political nemesis, former President Bill Clinton, who Democrats said on Monday would play a pivotal role at this summer's nominating convention.

"Barack Obama is no Bill Clinton," Gingrich said. "In a funny kind of a way heaving President Clinton at the Democratic convention may highlight the difference between the two choices [in November]."

Gingrich has not been given a role yet at his own party's convention, but he insists that doesn't bother him.

"I'm very comfortable not speaking," Gingrich said. "There's a whole new generation of candidates."

scontorno@washingtonexaminer.com

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