By Justin Sink
Mitt Romney said Tuesday that he doesn’t know why Newt Gingrich “is so angry” over attack ads funded by a political action committee supporting his campaign, and downplayed Gingrich’s charge that he was a “liar” during an interview Tuesday on the Laura Ingraham radio show.
“Well I don’t know why he is so angry,” Romney said when asked to respond to Gingrich’s comments.
When Ingraham said Gingrich was upset by being attacked in commercials over his abortion record, Romney said he decries statements when they are “dishonest.”
The interview also touched on a protest by Occupy Wall Street at a Romney campaign event Monday night. Romney said that while he didn’t think that conservatives should interrupt Democratic campaign speeches in a similar fashion, he himself had protested former President Bill Clinton.
“I remember one time Bill Clinton was coming to Massachusetts and I was John Q. Citizen at the time,” Romney said. “I just stood on the side of the road with a sign that said ‘Shame.’”
Unlike some of his Republican opponents, Romney deferred from openly criticizing the Occupy protesters.
“That was actually the first time; we had been planning on it,” Romney said. “There were some 25 that were taken out before the event and then a group of about 10 who were interspersed in the audience began heckling, but I made the point that hey, that’s the great thing about America, people can express their views and you know I am looking forward to having some of our friends express our views next time Barack Obama is in town.”
Romney also downplayed concerns that he would have difficulty appealing to Tea Party voters, arguing that his record would be attractive to conservatives.
“Now, if people think 95 percent of my record conforms with their views, I hope that’s enough for them to vote for me, but I know you’re going to find at least 5 percent that you don’t agree with and that’s going to be true with almost anyone,” Romney said. “We are going to have to have a candidate who is big enough to bring Tea Partiers to vote for us and independents to vote for us because you know what, we don’t want 32 percent of the vote in the general election, we want 50.1 percent or more.”
He also dismissed comments from Tea Party Nation leader Judson Phillips, who said that the group’s supporters would not vote for him if he won the nomination.
“I have people who are some of the most prominent voices in the Tea Party that have endorsed me,” he said, “and I appreciate their help — Jennifer Horn in New Hampshire for instance who leads a group called We the People … so I’m pretty pleased with the fact that I get good support from Tea Partiers.”