05/29/2012 09:28 pm ET

Newt Gingrich: Birthers Stir Not Distracting Mitt Romney

LAS VEGAS -- Former GOP presidential candidate Newt Gingrich praised Mitt Romney's handling of Tuesday's controversy over Donald Trump's renewed questioning of President Barack Obama's birthplace.

"Governor Romney is not distracted. The Republican Party is not distracted. We believe that this is an American-born, job-killing president," Gingrich told reporters in the lobby of the Trump International Hotel, on his way into a fundraiser for Romney on Tuesday evening. "Other people may believe he was born somewhere else and still kills jobs, but that's an argument over background," Gingrich said. "I'm happy to say I believe he was born in Hawaii. That doesn't change the fact that he's killing jobs."

Romney, Gingrich said, "has been very good at staying focused on the economy."

The closest Gingrich came to dismissing Trump's remarks was in saying the economy is more important.

"The president challenges his own legitimacy by his failures on the economy," Gingrich said. "That's a more important central point of this campaign." When asked again about Trump's comments, Gingrich seemed to put some blame on the president for birther theories that say he was born in Kenya, not Hawaii.

"I think that Obama creates very powerful emotions about him largely because of the radicalism of his views," Gingrich said. "I think that that's the key."

Gingrich said he would not encourage Trump to knock it off.

"Far be it from me to suggest to the Donald what he should do," Gingrich said. "I'm not afraid of him. I just know it's hopeless to suggest to him anything he should do."