Gingrich calls GOP support for Hoffman a 'purge'

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) late Monday had some choice words for Republicans supporting Conservative Party party candidate Doug Hoffman (N.Y.), accusing them of conducting a "purge" of the GOP.

Many national Republican figures, such as Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R-Minn.) and ex-Gov. Sarah Palin (R-Alaska), have backed Hoffman over GOP candidate Dede Scozzafava in the 23rd district's special election this year. The district has been long-held by Republicans, but many conservatives have shied away from Scozzafava for her socially liberal positions and the local GOP's selection process that they say was not transparent.

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Gingrich broke the mold and backed Scozzafava, saying her candidacy gave the Republicans the best shot of regaining a congressional majority. The former Speaker faced a push-back from the right after his announcement but he upped the ante on Monday.

"This idea that we're suddenly going to establish litmus tests and all across the country we're going to purge the party of anybody who doesn't agree with us 100 percent; that guarantees Obama's reelection, that guarantees Pelosi as Speaker-for-life," he told Fox News last night.

Gingrich called Scozzafava a "liberal Republican" for her support of gay marriage and abortion rights. But he defended those positions as in-step with her district and her predecessor, former Rep. John McHugh (R-N.Y.), who was tapped to be President Barack Obama's Army Secretary.

But he said that her endorsement from the National Rifle Association, her signing a no tax-increase pledge, and her opposition to cap-and-trade and healthcare reform legislation made her "adquately conservative in an upstate New York district." 

Gingrich also attacked Hoffman for not having proper knowledge of local issues and living outside the 23rd district.

"So I say to my many conservative friends who suddenly decided whether they're from Minnesota, or Alaska, or Texas, they know more than the upstate New York Republicans? I don't think so," he added.