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CPAC 2013: Newt Gingrich: Bob McDonnell, Chris Christie should have been invited to speak

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Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich said Friday that organizers of the Conservative Political Action Conference should have reached out to New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, two high-profile Republicans who were not given prominent speaking slots at the three-day event.

“I think they should have invited both governors to speak — they’re both remarkable reformers, they both have great records,” Mr. Gingrich said Friday on CNN. “But I was there yesterday … when you see 2,500 students signed up, you see thousands of people coming, some of whom have been coming since it was started 40 years ago.”

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He listed Texas Gov. Rick Perry and Sens. Marco Rubio and Rand Paul as people who gave great speeches Thursday. Mr. McDonnell, who is barred from seeking another four-year term in the state’s gubernatorial election this year, was, in fact, at the event, though he wasn’t given a prime speaking slot. He was the keynote speaker at the Faith & Freedom Coalition Prayer Breakfast Friday morning.

“So they get 95 percent, they don’t get 100, but it is the largest political ideas gathering in the country and if you look at the total number of speeches given, the workshops, etc. — Callista and I will be there tomorrow morning … it’s a terrific venue if you believe in activism and ideas,” Mr. Gingrich said.

The former speaker also added another adjective to Mr. Paul’s assertion Thursday that the old guard of the GOP has become “stale and moss-covered.”

“I think we’re going to be fine in the long run,” Mr. Gingrich said, listing other newer figures in the party like Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas and South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, “but I do think the old guard of the party sometimes gets a little too crusty and a little too anti-ideas, and I think that’s unfortunate.”

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