Republican presidential candidate, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich speaks during a campaign stop on Friday, Feb. 17, 2012 in Peachtree City, Ga. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
Newt Gingrich on Friday slammed his GOP presidential rivals for pulling out of a planned debate in Georgia, accusing them of being “afraid” to take him on.
“The average Georgian is going to say, the average Ohioan is going to say, `Let me get this straight. They won’t come here to debate but they want my vote?’” Gingrich told supporters at a campaign stop in Peachtree City, Ga., according to the Associated Press. “Anybody who‘s afraid of debating Newt Gingrich isn’t going to be in very good shape to debate Barack Obama.”
As The Blaze previously reported, CNN announced Thursday it was canceling its March 1 debate in Atlanta after Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum and Ron Paul pulled out.
“With eight other states voting on March 6, we will be campaigning in other parts of the country and unable to schedule the CNN Georgia debate,” Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul said. “We have participated in 20 debates, including eight from CNN.”
Santorum and Paul similarly said they would not be participating.
As the AP noted, CNN’s cancellation is a particular blow for Gingrich, who has consistently performed well in debates and is counting on a strong showing on Super Tuesday, March 6. The former House Speaker has said winning his home state of Georgia is “crucial” to keeping his presidential campaign afloat.
Gingrich also took time to blasted ads run by the pro-Romney super PAC Restore Our Future, which has spent millions on negative spots against Gingrich and Santorum.
“You can‘t hide behind millions of dollars in negative ads and think you’re going to win the presidency,” Gingrich said. “I think there is a declining impact of totally false ads, and I think you’re going to see as Romney applies the same technique at Santorum, a general revulsion against this kind of purely negative campaigning.”