By Jonathan Easley - 11/15/11 02:44 PM EST
Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich said Republican voters are turning to him because he brings an “outsider’s viewpoint” that most “traditional politicians” don’t have.
Speaking Tuesday on "Fox and Friends," Gingrich said his years of experience in the private sector don't mesh with the notion that he is a creature of Washington.
“I specialized in healthcare and national security; those are both huge issues for the country,” Gingrich continued. “I think that a lot of the combined experience, with the outsider’s viewpoint ... allows me to approach things like Washington that are probably very, very different from most traditional politicians, but at the same time with a lot more knowledge than someone who has never served in Washington.”
Recently, Gingrich has had to defend himself against allegations that he worked as a lobbyist on Capitol Hill upon leaving office.
Gingrich received $300,000 from bailed-out mortgage giant Freddie Mac, which he says was for advice given as a “historian.” Gingrich claims that he warned the firm that its business model was “insane” and would lead to a “bubble,” although former Freddie officials disputed that claim to Bloomberg on Tuesday.
Gingrich has risen sharply in the polls recently, as former GOP front-runner Herman Cain has struggled with sexual harassment allegations dating from his time as president of the National Restaurant Association in the 1990s.
But many wonder if Gingrich will be able to withstand the media close-up that comes with a surging candidacy.
Gingrich’s private life could be an issue for some conservative voters, as he’s currently married to his third wife and has admitted to extramarital affairs in the past. According to a Bloomberg News poll released Tuesday, nearly half of Iowa Republicans said they would not vote for a candidate who had been married three times or had admitted to an extramarital affair.
Gingrich argued that he’s grown wiser in the years since he left Congress.
“I’m very open about the fact that I’ve had moments in my life that I regret,” he said. “I’ve indicated that I had to go to God to ask forgiveness and seek reconciliation. Anybody who looks at me as a 68-year-old grandfather and says, 'All right, has he grown wiser, has he learned from his experiences, is he somebody that I would trust to lead the American people?' — they’ve got to come to their own judgment about that.”
On Fox's "Hannity" on Monday night, Gingrich said, “I’m much more mature than I was when I was Speaker.”