Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who has been one of Donald Trump’s most vocal supporters, said Wednesday that the Republican presidential nominee has been “very self-destructive” over the past week.
“Trump is still behaving like—as though it was the primary and there were 17 candidates. He has not made the transition to being the potential president of the United States, which is a much tougher league,” Gingrich said in an interview with Fox Business Network. “He’s not yet performing at the level that you need to.”
Trump has been embroiled in controversy since he criticized the family of a fallen Muslim soldier killed while serving in Iraq.
“He’s thrown a series of interceptions in the last week that really do not bode well for his campaign,” said Gingrich, who was widely seen as a finalist to be Trump’s running mate.
In an interview this week, Trump declined to endorse Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan and Arizona Sen. John McCain in their upcoming primary elections. He had previously insulted McCain’s military service and time as a prisoner of war.
“Let me just say flatly, I am totally for John McCain, who is a great war hero and a terrific human being, who has worked very hard for veterans,” Gingrich said Wednesday. “And I am totally for Paul Ryan, who is the heart of the House Republican Party and probably the most problem-solving leader we’ve had in the Congress on the Republican side in the last 20 years, so I think some of what Trump has done is just very self-destructive.
“He has enormous potential,” Gingrich added of Trump. “I would say that in the last couple weeks, he has been remarkably underperforming, and we’ll see whether or not he can take a deep breath and learn these lessons.”
Gingrich later sought to clarify his remarks.
“Media has wildly misinterpreted my critique of a bad week for Trump,” he wrote on Twitter. “Trump is vastly better than Hillary [Clinton] as President.”