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Newt Gingrich Defends Michael Steele After 'Bondage-Gate' Controversy

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WASHINGTON — Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich is calling on fellow Republicans to stop criticizing party chairman Michael Steele and focus instead on defeating Democrats this fall.

Gingrich, who figures prominently in speculation about the 2012 presidential race, tells NBC's "Today" show Steele "is capable of taking us through the midterm elections." But he also suggests the embattled party chairman appoint an outsider to bring the party's finances under control.

Gingrich said Tuesday he thinks "it's foolish for Republicans to focus on Michael Steele as a person and it's better to focus on Democrats." The Georgian led the GOP uprising in 1994 that gave the party control of the House during the middle of President Bill Clinton's first term.

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