By Justin Sink - 01/25/12 08:00 PM EST
The former House Speaker derided Mitt Romney's idea of "self-deportation" — articulated in Monday's GOP debate — as a "fantasy" while defending his own immigration plan, which would legalize the status of illegal immigrants with significant roots in the community and who had avoided arrest.
"I think you have to live in a world of Swiss bank accounts and Cayman Island accounts and automatic, you know, $20 million a year income with no work to have some fantasy this far from reality," Gingrich said. "Remember that I talked very specifically about people who have been here a long time, who are grandmothers and grandfathers, who have been paying their bills, they have been working, they are part of the community. Now, for Romney to believe that somebody's grandmother is going to be so cut off that she is going to self-deport, I mean this verges — this is an Obama-level fantasy."
"Well, he certainly shows no concern for the humanity of people who are already here. I mean I just think the idea we're going to deport grandmothers and grandfathers is a sufficient level of inhumanity," Gingrich said.
Gingrich said that he would also wage "psychological warfare" against Cuba to eliminate the Castro dictatorship.
"The plan would be to take all of the tools that Ronald Reagan, Pope John Paul II, and Prime Minister [Margaret] Thatcher used to break the Soviet Empire. They went at it psychologically, they went at it economically, they went at it diplomatically, they went at it with covert operations," Gingrich said.
"You want to say to the entire younger generation of the dictatorship, 'You have no future propping up the dictatorship. You have a wonderful future if you are willing to become a democracy.' And so you want to undermine and cause a generational divide between these guys who represent, you know, the fantasies of 1959. I mean it's a long time to have people live in misery because of some dream of a guy who clearly is, you know, a dictator," he added.
Gingrich also underwent some of his toughest questioning about his personal life, arguing that his extramarital affairs were different from those of former President Clinton because he did not lie about them under oath.
"The fact is, I have been through two divorces. I have been deposed both times, under oath. Both times, I told the truth in the deposition because I know that it is — I am not a lawyer, so I know it’s a felony. Bill Clinton, who is a lawyer, is a Yale graduate — law school graduate. He knew he was lying under oath. He knew it was perjury. He knew it was a felony. And in fact, he lost his license to practice law in Arkansas as part of the deal," Gingrich said.
Gingrich has been actively targeting the Latino vote in Florida, hoping to win over some of the state's social conservatives and deliver Romney another upset loss.
But the former House Speaker has significant ground to make up. An ABC/Univision poll of the state found Gingrich trailing the former Massachusetts governor by 15 percentage points.
But Gingrich said his goal would be to win a majority of Latinos in a general election.
"I think, by the time we get to the fall campaign and we talk about values, where the Latino community is far closer to me than they are to Obama, we talk about the failure to create jobs, where the Latino community has a much greater concern than President Obama does, we talk about an effective Latin American policy where he has clearly failed, we talk about [Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad and the Iranians in alliance with Chavez, where the president has clearly failed, we talk about his failure in Cuba — I have a hunch that, by this fall, we may do better than any Republican except maybe Reagan," Gingrich said.