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It’s lonely at the top.
Newt Gingrich is headed into the latest Republican debate as the new frontrunner in a list of national and state polls — but an apparent gaffe in an interview with a television interview has him on the defensive.
The New York Times reports that in an interview with cable service the Jewish Channel, Gingrich called the current stalled peace process “delusional” and called the Palestinians an “invented” people:
“Remember there was no Palestine as a state,” the former house speaker said. “It was part of the Ottoman Empire. And I think that we’ve had an invented Palestinian people, who are in fact Arabs, and were historically part of the Arab community.”
As Politico reports, the Gingrich campaign is already walking back the statements, telling CNN that the candidate supports a negotiated a peace agreement between Israel and Palestinians over the borders of a Palestinian state.
Gingrich has been known to make extreme statements that later become problematic for him. And as the new king of the hill in the GOP field, he’ll face a big debate challenge on Saturday: navigating the rhetorical missiles of the other candidates who now see him as their primary target besides Obama.