Newt Gingrich warned Americans Thursday to brace for a nasty presidential campaign driven by big-spending super PACs, as President Barack Obama and likely opponent Mitt Romney face off in an election he said is vital to the nation’s economic recovery.
“It’s going to be a mess and people are going to be sick of it,” the former House speaker and GOP presidential candidate said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”
Gingrich said the country would be much “better off” with a campaign finance system that allows individuals to contribute as much as they want to candidates only and then report the donations immediately over the Internet.
He said the huge super PACs, or political action committees, now involved in the presidential race have too much influence and are not restrained by the same federal rules candidates must operate under.
Recalling his own bitter campaign against Romney marked by super PAC spending, Gingrich acknowledged that the former Massachusetts governor was not his “first choice” as the Republican presidential nominee.
“We had a very tough primary system,” he said. “I threw the kitchen sink at him. He threw a bigger kitchen sink back at me.”
But Gingrich said he supports Romney now because he believes he could do more to create jobs and get the economy back on track.
Citing what he described as Obama’s failure on job creation, he said he found it ironic that the president is now attacking Romney for his work with the private equity firm, Bain Capital, which has shut down some companies it invested in.
Gingrich in his own campaign had criticized Romney’s Bain connections as well, only to find, he said, that the attacks didn’t resonate with voters.
“I actually think, ironically, this is going to be a big vote loser for Obama,” Gingrich said. “Every day the president gets involved in an economic fight he’s on exactly the turf Romney wants him on.”
He said it was an easy decision to back Romney because Obama “will be a disaster” if elected to a second term.
Noting Romney’s stated plans to immediately repeal Obamacare if elected and sign off on the building of the Keystone pipeline from Canada to Texas, Gingrich said a Romney administration would be marked by less government spending and a real focus on job creation.
“He’s really a problem solver,” Gingrich said, noting that Romney’s approach “to the country at large” would be different from the way he governed Massachusetts, where he created the state’s controversial healthcare system.
As an example, Gingrich said, “He’s not going to try to take a Massachusetts healthcare plan to Texas.”
Instead, Gingrich added, Romney’s approach to governing would be “to liberate the 50 states” so they could create their own programs and resolve their own problems locally.
Gingrich also suggested Romney’s approach to foreign policy would be different as well, with a clearer focus on national security issues closer to home. He cited Mexico as a prime example.
“We have to be concerned for our neighbor,” he said, referring to out-of-control drug violence now plaguing the country and spilling over into the United States.
“If Mexico were to become a failed state, it would immediately become our number one [national security] issue,” Gingrich said.
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