Trump defends Gingrich, says he is showing 'compassion' on immigration

Real estate mogul Donald Trump defended Newt Gingrich's stance on immigration policy, saying that the GOP presidential hopeful was "showing a lot of compassion."

Trump said that while Gingrich may have done "himself considerable harm, maybe" with conservative voters over his immigration views, he had helped himself with independent voters.

"With the overall electorate he did himself considerable good," said Trump on "Fox & Friends" Monday morning.

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In last Tuesday's GOP debate, Gingrich said that he would support efforts to allow tax-paying illegal immigrants with families and no criminal record to remain in the country.

“If you've come here recently, you have no ties to this country, you ought to go home, period,” Gingrich said. “If you've been here 25 years and you got three kids and two grandkids, you've been paying taxes and obeying the law, you belong to a local church, I don't think we're going to separate you from your family, uproot you forcefully and kick you out.”

Trump, who flirted with the idea of a GOP presidential bid earlier in the year and has been wooed by Republican candidates eager to gain his endorsement, characterized Gingrich's plan as limited, saying he was "really talking about something where someone has been in the country for 25 years."

"I like what Newt is saying, to a certain extent. It’s a very limited thing," he added.

Trump also took issue with rival Michele Bachmann's claims that Gingrich's stance was "amnesty."

"To a certain extent, to a certain limited number of people it's amnesty, but how do you tell people who’ve been here for 25 years to get out?" Trump said.

Trump said he doubted that Bachmann would deport families who had been here decades even if they were undocumented immigrants. "She wouldn't do it, she's a good person," he said.

"Go across the street, see that family, they’ve been producers for this country for 25 years, their children are great producers, throw them out of the country? I don’t think she could do it," said Trump.

Gingrich has pushed back against the criticism from conservative anti-illegal-immigration groups and other primary candidates, insisting that his plan is not a form of amnesty.

“I am not for amnesty for anyone. I am not for a path to citizenship for anybody who got here illegally,” Gingrich said at a town-hall event in Naples, Fla., according to media reports.