11/29/2011 06:26 pm ET

Romney Questions Whether Gingrich Has What It Takes To Beat Obama

Underscoring the extent to which Newt Gingrich has emerged as a viable candidate in the Republican primary, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, the perceived frontrunner in that race, attacked the former House Speaker during an interview with Fox News on Tuesday.

"Speaker Gingrich is a good man, but he and I have very different backgrounds," Romney told Brett Baier. "He spent his last 30 or 40 years in Washington. I spent my career in the private sector. I think that's what the country needs right now."

It wasn't a heavy swipe. But it was a swipe nonetheless -- and the first real on Romney has had to make since Texas Gov. Rick Perry entered the primary late this summer to much fanfare. At other points during the interview, Romney deftly avoided going after Gingrich on specific topics, like immigration reform, choosing to allow the former speaker explain his position. He even went out of his way to praise him as a "good man" albeit "a very different person than I am, based on our life experiences."

Still, the sense that the Massachusetts Republican has grown at least slightly concerned by Gingrich's candidacy was clear.

"I think I stand by far the best shot of replacing President Obama among the Republicans in the field," Romney said. "That doesn't mean that others wouldn't have a good shot at it, as well. But I wouldn't be in this race if I didn't think I had unique background and vision for America and the capacity to actually replace President Obama."

"I think to get President Obama out of office you are going to have to bring something to the race that is different than what he brings," Romney said. "He [Gingrich] is a lifelong politician. I think you have to have the credibility of understanding how the economy works. I do and that’s why I'm in this race."

-- Sam Stein

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