Gingrich says Romney’s ‘rich enough’ to not worry about rising gas prices

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Newt Gingrich on Monday offered a blistering rebuttal to Mitt Romney's critique of his $2.50 per-gallon gas plan, suggesting Romney was "rich enough" to be unconcerned with rising gas prices.

"Well, look, if you're Mitt Romney and you're rich enough, maybe you don't get it," Gingrich said on Fox News.


Romney had said Sunday, while campaigning in Georgia, that Gingrich's plan — which the former Speaker said would drive down gas prices by opening up additional federal and offshore lands to oil drilling — was a "pander." But Gingrich sharply contested that critique, saying he would happily debate Romney on rising fuel prices. 

"If Romney wants to run as the candidate of high price gasoline, that's fine with me. We'll lump him up with Barack Obama, which is the same thing as ‘RomneyCare’ and ‘ObamaCare,’ maybe it's Romney-high-priced-gasoline and Obama-high-priced-gasoline," Gingrich continued.

Nationwide gas prices continued to rise Monday, hitting $3.77 per gallon as a national average.

Experts have suggested that it could be years before the effect of additional production was realized in the world markets, and it's possible that additional American production would simply be offset by reductions abroad.

The direct attack on Romney's personal wealth could be a dangerous one for Gingrich, who saw a similar critique on the former Massachusetts governor's time at private-equity firm Bain Capital backfire after fiscal conservatives rose to his defense. But it could also rally support among Southern conservative voters who will become increasingly influential in the coming GOP primary contests.

Gingrich also said Monday that he plans to challenge his fellow Republican candidates to an additional debate in either Mississippi or Alabama.

The former Speaker said the American people wouldn't accept Romney's suggestion that he does not plan to participate in additional GOP debates.

"I don't accept that the debates are over … I don't think the public is going to tolerate someone like Romney saying he's going to raise all his money on Wall Street and then turning around and saying he's not going to debate," Gingrich said.

Instead, Gingrich suggested an additional debate next week ahead of the next round of primary voting.

"One thing I'll do is tomorrow night I'll challenge the other three candidates to join me in either Mississippi or Alabama for a debate next week. I think we owe it to the people of Alabama and Mississippi to have a debate. I don't think Romney can just hide behind millions of dollars of paid ads — I think he's got to come out in the open," Gingrich said.

Gingrich also predicted a good showing in Georgia's Super Tuesday primary, saying he felt "very secure." Gingrich represented the state for two decades in Congress.

"We'll end up winning Georgia by probably five times the margin Romney won Michigan by," he predicted.