TAMPA, Fla. — Newt Gingrich went professorial on Monday, taking up Mitt Romney’s cause in his version of a lecture hall.
In the first of a series of “Newt University” seminars during the Republican National Convention, the former House Speaker took to the podium to dispel what he views as Republican myths on health care, particularly Medicare.
“We want a fact-based campaign because we will win a fact-based campaign by a decisive margin,” Gingrich said, pointing out that current Medicare recipients would not be affected by Republican-backed reforms. “The only way the left can win this debate is to be fundamentally and consistently dishonest.”
The Romney campaign dispatched Gingrich, widely seen as one of the GOP's idea men, as their messenger amid a fierce debate about the future of entitlements for seniors.
Since Romney tapped Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., as his running mate, Democrats have been eager to tie Romney to Ryan’s controversial budget proposals.
President Obama contends that Romney and Ryan would “end Medicare as we know it.” Democrats say the Ryan plan embraced by Romney would turn Medicare into a voucher system and force seniors to pay more for their health care coverage.
With typical Gingrich flair, the former Georgia congressman and House Speaker, reminded convention-goers that the “elite media” would repeat such clarion calls, telling conservatives to be “cheerful and positive” in the “Reagan model" in combating such attacks.
Gingrich was followed by a litany of conservatives who echoed the aggressive Romney offensive on Medicare.
“To do nothing means the system is going to go broke,” warned Rep. Rep. Aaron Schock, R-Ill, of Medicare. “The only person to put forward a thoughtful plan to save this was Paul Ryan.”
And a pair of Republican governors sought to highlight Romney’s background as proof that he could steer the economy back in the right direction.
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, a conservative hero after his recall-election victory in the Badger State, was ushered in to fire up a roomful of delegates who remain somewhat skeptical of Romney’s conservative credentials.
“We knew that Mitt Romney had the resume to be a great president,” Walker said, adding that the Ryan selection further proved “he has the courage and passion to be an exceptional president.”
Romney, who cites his handling of the Salt Lake City Winter Olympics as proof of his leadership abilities, received glowing praise from the state’s chief executive.
“It’s not a myth,” Republican Utah Gov. Gary Herbert said. “By the strength of his leadership… [Romney] turned around the winter Olympics. Not only did he turn it around, we made a profit.”
Gingrich will hold another seminar Tuesday in a nearby Tampa hotel, where once again he’ll take to the podium and maybe even a whiteboard.