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CNN "The Situation Room" - Transcript


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BLITZER: We're less than 15 hours away from the polls opening in Florida, in the Florida Republican primary. And the battle in that state between Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich is now very personal.

Gingrich is facing a relentless assault by the Romney campaign but he's fighting back right now. He's hammering away at Romney's conservative credentials.

Gingrich went one-on-one a little while ago with CNN's Joe Johns.


JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR CORRESPONDENT: It's been said that you sort of -- and you tell me whether this is true -- that you didn't have an answer when the Romney campaign sort of did the full-court press, the carpet bombing.


JOHNS: What's your answer going to be when you move from Florida to some of these other states?

GINGRICH: We're going to tell the truth much more explicitly and much more aggressively. George Soros gave us the perfect answer yesterday. He said it flatly, there's no difference between Romney and Obama. He doesn't care which one wins. He said, now, Gingrich would be different.

But here you have the leading left wing billionaire in the world saying to the Europeans, look, Romney and Obama are the same people. You have an article today in the "Wall Street Journal." There's no difference between Romneycare and Obamacare.

The fact is I don't believe the Republican Party is going to nominate a liberal who is pro-abortion, pro-gun control, pro-tax increase, pro-gay rights. And I don't think Romney, frankly, can raise enough money to sustain the falsehoods that are the base of his campaign.

JOHNS: How do you compete on television ads? That's been a problem for you.

GINGRICH: I think you compete with clarity to the American people, using every form of media. And I'm very comfortable that as we walk through how big the gap is between Romney's liberalism and Obama on the one hand, and a Reagan conservative on the other, I think you'll find resources pouring out. The Republican-party base does not want to nominate somebody that represents the establishment and Wall Street and New York.

JOHNS: You keep your own counsel, a lot of people say. How does that working for you? Is that effective? Do you need more people sort of who have your ear, doing your bidding?

GINGRICH: Well, I'll tell you what, there's nothing like $17.5 million of false ads to make a big difference. We did fine -- you know, you guys have counted me out three times so far this year. We'll do fine.

Romney managed to run more falsehoods. The debate is a good example. The reason I seemed flat in the second debate in Florida is, I have never seen a candidate for president that methodically dishonest. I mean, I stood there thinking, how can you say these things you know are falsehoods? That's why I was quiet, because there was no civil way to call him out on what was, in fact, a series of falsehoods that were astonishing.

JOHNS: A different strategy in these caucus states?

GINGRICH: I think you'll see us to do is be very explicit about just how liberal he is and just how dishonest he is. And I think you'll see us lay out for the country, you want Romneycare and Obamacare? They're the same person.

You want a war on the Catholic Church by Obama? Well, guess what? Romney refused to allow Catholic hospitals to have conscience in their dealing with certain circumstances. Romney cut off kosher food for elderly Jews on Medicare. Both of them have the same lack of concern for religious liberty.

You want somebody who raises taxes? Obama -- you know, Romney raised enough taxes in a state that ranks fourth from the bottom -- third from the bottom on job creation.

So, we're going to be very explicit about his record. And we're also going to ask the question: how can a guy who's a great manager not file 23 foreign holdings last year when he filed? And how can he go through -- how can he have signed a document saying that he provided services for Bain as part of his income tax when he kept telling everybody he didn't provide services for Bain.

I mean, a lot of pieces of Mitt Romney don't hold up once you start looking at them honestly.


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