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Newt Gingrich On ‘Face The Nation’ With Bob Schieffer – January 22 2012

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Newt Gingrich On ‘Face The Nation’ With Bob Schieffer – January 22 2012

CBS News

Coming off a landslide upset primary victory in South Carolina Saturday night, Newt Gingrich on Sunday attributed the win in part to his “authenticity” as a candidate — something he suggests his rival Mitt Romney lacks.

Speaking to CBS News’ Bob Schieffer on “Face the Nation,” Gingrich said it was the people of South Carolina, not himself, who “pulled it off” last night in the Palmetto state: “They wanted somebody who was tough enough and bold enough to take on Obama,” he said. “In addition, I think South Carolinians were the first state to really understand how liberal Governor Romney’s record was as governor of Massachusetts.

After leading Gingrich in the South Carolina polls by more than 20 points just over a week ago, Romney lost to the former House speaker by 13 points, following Gingrich 41 percent to 28 percent.

According to exit polls from the state, Gingrich also led on the crucial matter of perceived electability versus President Obama — a question Romney has dominated in the past.

“I think the number one thing people look for in difficult times is authenticity. They want somebody who is what he seems to be, who is comfortable with himself,” Gingrich said. Someone who is able to sell their message “because they actually believe it.”

He described Romney as a “very good salesman” hocking a “really weak product” — and who has been “dancing” around “trying to find a version of Romney that’ll work.”

When asked if he was saying Romney was a fake, Gingrich demurred.

“I will let you as a very sophisticated senior analyst or reporter draw your conclusions,” he told Schieffer, before adding that “it does show you why he keeps bouncing around trying to find a message.”

He added: “I have flaws, I have weaknesses, I have a long career — the fact is, what you see really is what you get.”

Earlier this week, ABC News aired an interview featuring the speaker’s ex-wife, who leveled the claim that Gingrich had asked her to partake in an open marriage while conducting a years-long extra-marital affair with his now-wife Callista Gingrich.

Gingrich denied the rumors vehemently, and when asked today if the had actually benefited from the interview, the candidate said only he thought “the people of South Carolina agreed that it was totally inappropriate.”

“People can criticize, question, challenge — it was almost as though ABC was an arm of the Romney campaign,” he suggested. “What people rejected was that whole premise.”

He went on to tout his record as a small business owner as well as his “long level of experience in something called the government of the United States of America.”

“Governor Romney may be running for CEO,” he said. “I’m running for president.”