Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich defended his attacks against rival Mitt Romney's record as a venture capitalist, hotly debating the issue on Fox News Channel's "Fox & Friends" Thursday.
Romney's time as the head of equity firm Bain Capital has come under attack on the campaign trail, primarily by Gingrich and fellow contender Rick Perry who have sought to paint him as a heartless executive.
Though Gingrich's segment began calmly enough, its tone quickly changed course when the subject was broached, with the former House Speaker insisting he wasn't attacking the capitalist system -- and not allowing the show's hosts to get a word in edgewise.
"When you have a circumstance where they made a lot of money and the company went broke, it's legitimate to ask the question," Gingrich said. "That's not an attack on capitalism, that's not an issue about the whole capitalist system. That is a question about a very particular style of activities -- we're not talking about the system, we're talking about somebody who's running for president of the United States and we're asking a question about his judgment, his values, the choices he made."
"But Mr. Speaker you are attacking the essence of capitalism," Fox News' Eric Bolling said.
“No I’m not,” Gingrich interjected.
“Venture capitalism is taking risks,” Bolling continued. “Bain Capital took risks on companies that likely may have failed had they not taking the risk. Sir, just allow me --"
"Wait a second, you don’t even know,” Gingrich interrupted. “You have no evidence, you have no proof, they are a totally private firm, they have never explained what they did.”
“But that’s what they do sir -- I’m no fan -- " Bolling said.
“I don’t have any question about the general process of entrepreneurial conservatism,” Gingrich said. "There are a series of cases that don’t look right. And I’m saying, for a guy to run for president, use his record as the basis for running, and then tell us we’re not allowed to ask about his record?”
As Bolling tried to ask a follow-up question, Gingrich pressed on, not allowing himself to be interrupted. Bolling attempted a series of fruitless interjections:
"Sir let me follow that up -- but, but sir -- Mr. Speaker, let -- "
But Gingrich continued speaking, not stopping until the hosts were forced to cut him off to go to a commercial break.
Watch the clip below, via Mediaite: