By Geneva Sands - 01/17/12 07:13 PM EST
Republican presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich continued to jab at front-runner Mitt Romney Monday, chiding the GOP establishment for backing "the guy who lost to the guy who lost to Obama."
With Romney, the winner in Iowa and New Hampshire, holding a strong lead in South Carolina ahead of Saturday's primary there, Gingrich took aim at the wide-spread perception that the former Massachusetts governor is the most electable contender and the presumptive GOP nominee.
"These are the same people who got us beat in '96. The same people who got us beat in '08. Ask yourself a simple question," said Gingrich to cheers from the crowd, "why would you want to nominate the guy who lost to the guy who lost to Obama?"
In 2008, Romney lost the Republican primary contest to eventual GOP nominee Sen. John McCain. The Arizona Republican went on to lose to then-Illinois Sen. Barack Obama in the general election.
Gingrich, who issued a similar challenge last month, reiterated his call for the former Massachusetts governor to participate in a one-on-one 90-minute debate.
"I guarantee you there is zero possibility that he'd accept it," Gingrich said.
Throughout the primary process Gingrich has challenged his rival candidates to debate. Herman Cain, who has since suspended his campaign, took him up on the offer, but that debate ended up more like a friendly conversation.
The former House Speaker slammed Romney, claiming that his perceived electability advantage was only thanks to his edge in campaign funding.
"You know why he's electable right now? Because he has raised more money from Wall Street to buy more ads than anybody else in the race," added Gingrich.