Gingrich campaign touts lead over Romney, defends immigration stance

Newt Gingrich’s campaign is touting the former Speaker’s lead over Mitt Romney in a release to reporters Wednesday morning that also trumpets Gingrich as the winner of Tuesday evening’s Republican debate.

The Gingrich camp is playing up a new Quinnipac national poll that shows Gingrich with 26 percent, leading Mitt Romney at 22 percent and Herman Cain at 14 percent.

The Speaker is also leading in “positive intensity score,” a measure by Gallup that subtracts those who are strongly opposed to a candidate from those who strongly support them. Gingrich’s score is 20, compared to 13 for Cain and 11 for Romney.

{mosads}The email blast went out as Gingrich is trying to solidify his position as the clear conservative alternative to Romney — a mantle a number of candidates have tried to hold but allowed to slip out of their grasp — despite espousing a view on immigration at Tuesday’s debate that runs against core Republican orthodoxy.

During the CNN debate, Gingrich said that he favored a way for peaceful and tax-paying illegal immigrants who had been in the country for years to gain citizenship or remain. That is contrary to the traditional Republican platform, espoused by Mitt Romney, that such a program would be a magnet for more illegal immigration.

“I don’t see how the party that says it’s the party of the family is going to adopt an immigration policy which destroys families which have been here a quarter-century,” Gingrich said. “I’m prepared to take the heat for saying let’s be humane in enforcing the law.”

But campaign spokesman RC Hammond said after the debate last night that “Republicans, given a choice between deporting someone who is a thug, a criminal, a member of a gang, and someone who has been in a community and been a good neighbor, can make a much better decision for the community.”

Hammond also called the Romney campaign a “weathervane,” a theme hit again in the media blast that quotes the Massachusetts governor as saying in 2007 that there “should begin a process towards application for citizenship.”

The campaign also linked to a story by The New York Times‘s Nate Silver, who argues that “Gingrich’s answer will not be all that harmful to him” because his “views on immigration are not all that far out of step with those of Republican voters.”


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