Gingrich: Romney should thank me for helping him ‘get to be rich’

"I was part of [Jack] Kemp's little cabal of supply-siders, who I think largely by helping convince Reagan and then working with Reagan, profoundly changed the entire trajectory of the American economy in the 1980s," said Gingrich on CNBC Tuesday. "You could make an argument that I helped Mitt Romney get to be rich because I passed the legislation."

Gingrich was responding to a question from CNBC host Larry Kudlow in which he asked, "Romney says you don't understand the economy and you can't recover it and grow it because you spent your entire life in professional politics. What's your answer?"

Romney has repeatedly made the case on the campaign trail that he is the best person to revive the economy because he has the experience and knowledge of running a business. Romney founded and ran the investment firm Bain Capital in 1984.

The former Speaker of the House, though, argued that his support of lower taxes, smaller government and welfare reform laid the groundwork for Romney's future business achievements.

"He should be thanking me, because I did the macroeconomic things necessary to make his career possible," Gingrich said.

When asked if he had ever made this argument before, Gingrich laughed and said, "I am as of right this minute. It just occurred to me."

While he might feel responsible for Romney's financial success, Gingrich, who has said he will keep a positive tone in the primary campaign, had praise for his fellow candidate.

"I think Mitt Romney is a very smart man … Any Republican could be proud to have him as their nominee, and I think he would be very formidable against Obama," Gingrich said.

However, he didn't go so far as to say Romney should win the Republican nomination.

"I happen to think I would be ... better than Mitt, but that's, I mean — we are, after all, competing, but I'm not going to say anything negative about him," added Gingrich.