Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney said he doesn’t expect Newt Gingrich to hold on to the lead and asserted that he was the more conservative of the two contenders.
“They have gone up and down,” the former Massachusetts governor told MSNBC’s Morning Joe, referring to other candidates who have risen above him in polls. “And I expect [Gingrich] will lead until he doesn’t lead.”
As for his conservative bona fides, Romney said that it was Gingrich’s idea, not his, to make an individual mandate for health care a federal law. He also said that Gingrich’s positions on health care and global warming show a record with more flip-flops than his own. And he claimed he became even more conservative when serving in a liberal state.
“You can look at my record as governor, and if you look at it, there is a conservative Republican in a state that was 85 percent Democrat,” Romney said. “Yeah, I became dramatically more conservative when I faced a bill which would have taken human life.”
Romney also said he was used to taking punches, and he shared a lesson he learned as a Mormon missionary when he spent five months knocking on doors without converting anyone.
“You understand rejection. You know, that's a pretty high level of rejection, and you get used to it,” Romney said. “You start asking, 'What do I believe and what's important to me?' And you don't measure yourself and your success by how other people react, but about the things you care about.”
Should he meet rejection in the Iowa primary, Romney said, he won’t be deterred. He warned not to write off any candidate that doesn't win in Iowa or New Hampshire.