Republican presidential candidate, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and Donald Trump talk to media after a meeting in New York, Monday, Dec. 5, 2011. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
NEW YORK (AP) — Surging in opinion polls, a confident Newt Gingrich declared Monday he plans to challenge Barack Obama in every state next year, and he began running a gauzy TV ad — his first — to push toward the Republican nomination to take on the president. But, illustrating how far he has to go, Gingrich also found himself defending the state of his campaign and his own comments about poor children.
“I do not suggest children until about 14 or 15 years of age do heavy, dangerous janitorial work,” Gingrich told reporters. “On the other hand, there are a number of things done to clean buildings that are not heavy or dangerous.”
He’s drawn fire over the past week for suggesting that poor children as young as 9 should work at least part time cleaning their schools in order to learn about work.
As Gingrich volunteers scrambled in some states to meet deadlines to get his name on ballots, the candidate dismissed the notion that his team wasn’t up to the task of waging a credible challenge against the better-funded, better-organized Mitt Romney. “We run a very decentralized campaign,” Gingrich insisted. “The system works.”
With only one month until the first presidential votes are cast, the GOP race has seemed to narrow to a contest between Gingrich and Romney.
Each spent the day wooing donors, Gingrich on the East Coast and Romney on the West Coast, as the hunt for cash intensified ahead of the string of costly contests that begin Jan. 3 in Iowa. The two will cross paths Wednesday as the candidates all convene in Washington to court Jewish Login to read more