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Gingrich Backs Romney Foreign Trip, Talks Conventions

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(CNN) — Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich defended controversial remarks made by presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney while overseas and said, while he may not be speaking, he will have a major role at the Republican National Convention.

Gingrich, appearing on “Starting Point with Soledad O’Brien” on Wednesday, said he doesn’t think Romney made a mistake in Israel. Gingrich felt that Romney was telling a difficult truth when he connected cultural differences to economic success at a high-dollar fundraiser in Jerusalem earlier this week.

Romney, who has since clarified the comments following backlash from top Palestinians leaders, said the higher per capita wealth in Israel indicates that the country is accomplishing more economically than its neighbors, namely the Palestinians. Romney now says the remarks were not meant to criticize the Palestinians.

“I think the comments about culture were right, and I wish the elites of this nation had the courage to look at the United Nations refugee camps and realize what an anti-human disaster those refugee camps are, how much they have been breeders of terrorism, how fundamentally wrong their design is and how much we have done a disservice to the people of Palestine and the Palestinians by allowing them to be subjected to that government-run, totally inappropriate structure,” said the former Republican presidential contender. “So there I hope Gov. Romney will stick to his guns, and let’s have the argument.”

Gingrich recognized the former Massachusetts governor’s stumbles in England but insisted that overall Romney’s trip was a success.

“Well look, I think Gov. Romney had a very good visit to Israel; he had a very good visit to Poland. England obviously didn’t work out quite as well because of some comments that I think he was making as a guy who’d run the Winter Olympics, and it didn’t go over so well,” said Gingrich, referring to Romney’s comments while overseas expressing concern for the organization and preparedness of the London Olympic Games, calling aspects of the preparations “disconcerting.”

“But I think that the visit to Israel and the visit to Poland were very effective and drew a very real contrast between (President) Obama’s policies, which have been largely anti-Israeli and anti-Polish, and where Romney would be, which would be returning to a classical American friendship with both Israel and Poland,” Gingrich said.

Gingrich also weighed in on the Democratic National Convention speaker lineup, saying he thinks it was a risky choice for Obama to be entered into nomination by former president Bill Clinton, given the politician’s status as a symbol for the Democratic Party and his general popularity.

“It’s going to drive home how big the differences are,” Gingrich said.

“President Clinton could work in a bipartisan way; President Obama can’t,” said Gingrich, continuing to highlight what he said are significant differences in leadership between the two Democrats. “So I think having Bill Clinton there is going to remind people of having a Democrat they used to like and may, in fact, shrink Obama by comparison.”

As for his own speaking slot at the Republican National Convention in August, Gingrich doubts it.

“I will have a fairly big role at the conventions, but I’m fairly comfortable not speaking and I’m fairly comfortable maybe it’s time for the new generation of Republicans,” he said. “We have so many bright, young new Republicans around the country that I think we really want to make sure that we maximize their appearance in prime time and show people what a diverse party we are.”

Included on Gingrich’s list of fresh GOP faces were South Carolina Rep. Tim Scott, Florida Rep. Allen West and New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez.

By Dana Davidsen – CNN

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