After Republican presidential nominee-in-waiting Donald Trump accused the judge presiding over the lawsuit against Trump University of being racially biased—in turn resulting in renewed claims of his own racism—he found himself in the crosshairs of one of his staunchest supporters.
"It was one of the worst mistakes Trump has made," former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich told FOX News on Sunday. "Inexcusable.
"That judge is not a Mexican. He's an American. I hope it was sloppiness."
He added that the businessman has reached a "turning point" in which he must become more disciplined—more presidential—and listen more to his campaign advisers' counsel. Particularly if he hopes to defeat Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton in the general election.
But that doesn't mean Gingrich has suddenly jumped on the #NeverTrump bandwagon.
"Compared to Hillary Clinton, I'd support Donald Trump all year," Gingrich said. "She's a much more flawed person."
The criticism is notable in that the former speaker was considered one of the front-runners to be Trump's running mate. And that criticism drew the typical fiery response from the businessman.
"I saw Newt and I was surprised at Newt," he said. "I thought it was inappropriate, what he said."
Later in the day Monday, Gingrich quickly worked to defuse the situation. He called into FOX News Radio's "John Gibson Show" to say he and Trump are "big boys who can disagree," and repeated his strong support for the candidate. He said Trump "has a good complaint" against the judge, but doesn't think he should "get into a game where we describe people based on ethnicity."
"We don't judge you as part of a group," he said. "Once you go down that road, you destroy America."
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