Newt Gingrich Says Voters Looking Beyond His Marriages Ahead Of Iowa Caucus 2012

12/15/2011 11:34 am ET

JOHNSTON, Iowa -- Newt Gingrich says he's surged ahead of his rivals for the Republican presidential nomination because voters are looking beyond his checkered personal history for a candidate with a record of big accomplishments.

Gingrich says that as House speaker he balanced the federal budget and overhauled welfare – which he says outweigh his confessions of marital infidelity and multiple marriages. Gingrich says he's open to people getting to know him and plans to run a positive, issue-oriented campaign in the 19 days before the Iowa caucuses on Jan. 3.

Gingrich says that kind of campaign has real appeal at a time when many people think the country is in deep trouble.

Gingrich spoke Thursday during a taping of Iowa Public Television's "Iowa Press" program, airing over the weekend.