Newt Gingrich has vowed not to allow future GOP presidential debate moderators to tell the audience not to applaud following Monday night’s subdued performance in Tampa.
And the former House speaker attacked Brian Williams’ decision, saying he believed he made the request because he was terrified the crowd would make the media look bad.
“I wish in retrospect I had protested when Brian Williams took them out of it because I think it’s wrong,” Gingrich told Tuesday’s Fox and Friends. “He took them out of it because the media is terrified that they’re going to side with the candidates against the media.”
He said he “was simply not going to allow” moderators to keep the audience quiet.
“That’s wrong. The media doesn’t control free speech. People ought to be able to applaud if they want to,” Gingrich added. “It was almost silly.”
Gingrich’s normally bombastic style was muted in Monday’s debate as the zingers that he and the other three candidates, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, Texas Rep. Ron Paul and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum shot at each other were greeted with near silence.
In the past two debates in South Carolina, Gingrich received standing ovations and clearly had the crowd on his side, but that was not the case on Monday.