When President Obama was reelected last month, almost no one was as surprised as Newt Gingrich: On the eve of the election, the former House speaker confidently predicted that Mitt Romney would win at least 300 electorial points. Of course, that’s not what happened.
“I was publicly, explicity wrong,” he told Jay Leno Thursday on “The Tonight Show.” “I hated being that wrong.”
Leno wondered why Gingrich had been so confident of a Romney victory -- a fair question, given that polls showed Obama with a small but consistent lead in the electoral college. “Were you just watching Fox News?” he asked.
“All the historical models I knew said if you have this level of unemployment, this price of gasoline, this size of the deficit, that the incumbent was going to lose,” Gingrich explained. “And I give Obama a lot of credit that he defied all the probabilities and he won.” (He didn’t mention the polls.)
Leno also asked whether the GOP’s intransigence on social issues hadn’t cost the party some votes. “Do you think if the Republicans had said we’re for strong fiscal policy and strong defense, that’s our policy, thank you, goodbye, everything else we really don’t care about, could they would have won?” he asked.
Gingrich was dismissive of the idea -- “you’d have a third party,” he said -- but did note one area in which he believes his party needs to improve: “We really have to have a much more intelligent modern approach on immigration than we have,” he said, boasting of his own “very bold position” on the issue.