With his poll numbers rising and riding the buzz from his recent Manchester, N.H., Union Leader endorsement, Newt Gingrich set his sights on GOP presidential front-runner Mitt Romney on Monday, attacking him as a flip-flopper and pitching himself as the “conservative alternative.”

“I don’t claim to be the perfect candidate, I just claim to be a lot more conservative than Mitt Romney,” Gingrich told WSC Radio in Charleston, S.C.


Gingrich is on a campaign swing through South Carolina, which follows Iowa and New Hampshire on the Republican primary calendar and will be critical for the former House Speaker, as most expect Romney to run away with a New Hampshire victory.

“We think there has to be a solid conservative alternative to Mitt Romney,” Gingrich said. “I’m the one candidate who can bring together national-security conservatives and economic conservatives and social conservatives in order to make sure we have a conservative nominee.”

Gingrich also tagged Romney as a flip-flopper, warning South Carolina voters to be wary of candidates who “adopt radically different positions.”

“I wouldn’t lie to the American people,” Gingrich said. “I wouldn’t switch my positions for political reasons. It’s perfectly reasonable to change your position if facts change. If you see new things you didn’t see — everybody’s done that. Ronald Reagan did that. It’s wrong to go around to adopt radically different positions based on your need of any one election; then people will have to ask themselves, ‘What will you tell me next time?’ "

Gingrich’s words turn up the heat on a consistent criticism of Romney, who has been accused of changing his positions on matters ranging from abortion to healthcare. On Monday, the Democratic National Committee released a video called “Mitt vs. Mitt: The story of two men trapped in one body.”

But Gingrich has also been criticized for holding changed positions on matters that are important to conservative voters, such as drug policy and healthcare. The former House speaker argues that his views evolved after careful deliberation of the changing facts, suggesting that Romney flip-flops for political benefit.

Gingrich also tried to usurp the Romney narrative that though he might not be the perfect conservative candidate, he’s the most electable in the GOP field.

“I think anybody who is honest about it knows that no person except Christ has ever been perfect,” Gingrich said. “I don’t claim to be the perfect candidate. I just claim to be a lot more conservative than Mitt Romney and a lot more electable than anybody else.”