Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani offered a vigorous defense of Newt Gingrich today in the face of a strong push by Mitt Romney to drive the former House speaker out of the Republican presidential race.
Appearing on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” Giuliani insisted that Gingrich knows how to bring moderates and conservatives together to beat President Barack Obama next year, and added that he was surprised that many in the GOP are coming after him “like he’s some sort of monster.”
Calling Gingrich “a totally smart guy” who connects with the suburban “Reagan Democrats” that Republicans will need to beat Obama, Giuliani said the former House speaker would likely surprise a lot of people if he becomes the nominee just like Reagan did in 1980 against Jimmy Carter.
“Ronald Reagan was the dumb actor; Ronald Reagan said incendiary things; Ronald Reagan was like Newt. Gosh, you never knew what he was going to say and the whole world would go crazy,” Giuliani said, noting that the Democrats were eager to run against Reagan “and they got trounced.”
Some Republicans have offered the same scenario for a Romney-Obama match-up, pointing out that Democrats have been hoping and planning for a campaign against the former Massachusetts governor.
But Giuliani insisted that Romney has a bigger problem than Gingrich because people can’t be sure from one day to the next where he stands on the issues. That’s a huge problem, he said, not just for Republican conservatives but for voters in general.
“There’s something wrong when you’ve been running as long as Mitt has and you’re at 25 percent, and you don’t go much below, and you don’t go much above,” said Giuliani, who also faced off against Romney in the 2008 campaign for the GOP nomination. “Seventy-five percent of the other Republicans are telling you something.”
“I’ve never seen a guy change his positions on so many things so fast,” he added. “I think this is a great vulnerability.”
Former Education Secretary and conservative pundit Bill Bennett, who also appeared on the Morning Joe program, challenged Giuliani’s view of Gingrich, describing him as a candidate who might present a challenge for Obama in debates but would lose to him on Election Day.
“The debates don’t really resolve things,” Bennett said, adding that Republicans must ask themselves: “Do you want to feel good or do you want to win an election?”
Giuliani, who has yet to endorse any candidate, also offered a brief take on two other Republican hopefuls.
He described former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum as “a very good man” who might do better in the Iowa caucuses than people think. But his take on former Utah governor and China ambassador Jon Huntsman was quite different.
“Huntsman frightens us,” Giuliani said, calling him a State Department “intellectual” whose foreign policy ideas are out of touch with reality.
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