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Newt Gingrich doubles down on ‘food stamps’

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Newt Gingrich is touting a confrontation with debate moderator Juan William on Monday night in a new TV ad, using the back and forth to make the case that the former House Speaker is the only candidate who can stand up to President Obama in a debate.

No word yet on the size of the buy, but the ad is airing statewide in South Carolina.

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Asked by Williams if he was “seeking to belittle people” by referring to President Obama as “the food stamp president,” Gingrich replied:

“The fact is that more people have been put on food stamps by Barack Obama than any president in American history ... I believe every American of every background has been endowed by their creator with the right to pursue happiness. And if that makes liberals unhappy, I’m going to continue to find ways to help poor people learn how to get a job, learn how to get a better job and learn some day to own the job.”

The ad cuts out Williams’ question but keeps the audience’s loud applause and adds dramatic music. The spot begins with a narrator declaring: “Only Newt Gingrich can beat Obama.”

Gingrich’s campaign also highlighted the exchange in a fundraising email headlined “Standing Ovation,” in which Gingrich writes: “I would be the strongest candidate to face Barack Obama one-on-one on stage and challenge him for being the greatest food-stamp President in American history.”

The email features a series of quores praising Gingrich’s debate performance as one of the best of the night.

While Gingrich is correct in saying that more people are on food stamps than at any point in history, that increase has more to do with the economic downturn and changes made to the program under President Bush than with President Obama. However, Obama has pushed to expand the food stamp program.

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