Newt Gingrich held a “tele-town hall” with Iowa voters Thursday night, as the former House Speaker attempted to battle a spate of negative attack ads airing against him in early voting states.

“I saw an article that said there have been so many negative mailings and so many negative hit pieces and so much negative ads, we just decided that between now and the Iowa caucuses, we would be available so we can tell the truth and make sure you understand the facts rather than the political attacks,” Gingrich said.

“I feel badly about having to have this kind of a phone call just to dispel negative things. As all of you know, I’ve tried very hard to campaign on a positive basis. I’m going to continue my campaign on a positive basis, but I’m regularly going to do these kinds of calls so people can ask any question they want to.”


Gingrich made a detour to Virginia this week to ensure his place on the commonwealth’s primary ballot, but used the conference call to campaign with Iowa voters. 

During the call, Gingrich asked participants to volunteer to speak and organize during next month’s Iowa caucus. He also tried to deflect some of the criticisms that have been weighing heavily on his once-surging campaign, including whether he lobbied for troubled mortgage giant Freddie Mac.

“I have never once advocated that people do something for Fannie [Mae] or Freddie [Mac]. I do not in any way work on influence per se,” Gingrich said. “I’m a public figure, I make public speeches. Everybody can go look at what I’ve said in public. I actually suggested they needed more regulations.” 

Gingrich also argued that his record on abortion — challenged by Michele Bachmann in the last GOP debate before the Iowa caucus — is more conservative than front-runner Mitt Romney’s.

“There is a suggestion that I was in favor of funding abortions in China. That is just plain factually false,” Gingrich said. “There’s a very sharp difference here between Gov. Romney and myself. Gov. Romney signed a healthcare bill, which provided for the state of Massachusetts to pay for abortions.”