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Newt Gingrich says Trump became a 'historic figure' at the debate — here's why

"That was the most important conversation starter of the whole evening."

Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich gives a thumbs up after speaking before the arrival of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump during a campaign rally at the Germain Arena on September 19, 2016 in Estero, Florida. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, a top surrogate for Donald Trump, says the Republican presidential nominee "crossed into being a historic figure" during Sunday night's presidential showdown.

While the debate was certainly memorable, it was Trump's promise to appoint a "special prosecutor" to look into Democratic rival Hillary Clinton that made the face-off one for the history books, according to Gingrich.

John Moore/Getty Images

"The key point is when he said he would appoint an independent prosecutor," the former lawmaker told Fox News Radio host Josh Gibson Monday. "[I] think Trump crossed into being a historic figure by saying, 'You know, we have so much corruption in this administration.'"

Though that comment clearly performed well in Gingrich's corner, it was also one that earned Trump scorn — specifically when he said Clinton would "be in jail" if he was president — from CNN correspondent Dana Bash. She likened the comment to "Stalin and Hitler," who "put their opponents in jail."

But Gingrich, whose own political résumé dates back to the 1970s, sang Trump's praises for sticking it to Clinton.

"Hillary Clinton herself is so corrupt that we really need to handle it as a criminal justice matter, not just a campaign matter," he said. "I thought, in many ways, that was the most important conversation starter of the whole evening."

Gingrich also had a few words for House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), who Monday said he will no longer defend Trump but will instead focus on down ballot races to ensure the GOP maintains control of Congress.

"I think Paul Ryan’s got to follow his own politics, but I think it’s a mistake," he remarked. "Ryan becomes caught up in the emotions. A lot of Republicans do, because they don’t understand what the game is."

Fox News commentator Sean Hannity joined Gingrich's chorus, saying on his own radio show that Ryan is "done" after backing away from the brash billionaire, adding he just doesn't "know it yet."

One last thing…
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