ORLANDO, FL -- Following a town hall event at an Orlando public library, Newt Gingrich told NBC News yesterday that American troops should come out of Afghanistan as soon as the U.S. military can arrange a safe exit.
"I don't see us creating a stable government in Afghanistan in the foreseeable future," Gingrich said. "I think that we'd be far better off to get out as early as the generals can figure a safe way to do it."
The statement is part of a national security outlook that Gingrich's campaign describes as looking beyond Afghanistan -- to security threats the GOP candidate sees as more immediate, including the prospect of loose nuclear weapons in Pakistan and the spread of radical Islam through Africa.
In his one-on-one interview with NBC, Gingrich also encouraged House Republicans to propose their own jobs measure. "If they don't like Obama's approach, then they ought to show us their approach," he said.
Asked if he thought Speaker Boehner had a duty to bring President Obama's jobs bill to the House floor, Gingrich demurred.
"He can," Gingrich said, "but it'll be defeated badly. I suspect by the time they're done looking at it, a lot of the Democrats even won't for it."
Gingrich also reiterated his support for the idea of one-on-one debates among the GOP presidential candidates, but he said he had not sent letters of invitation to any candidates -- indicating he thinks that's a job for "somebody like C-Span."
Finally, asked if he thought Tuesday's special election in New York was a referendum on President Obama, Gingrich said yes, but added that it doesn't make a GOP victory in 2012 "fore-ordained."
But Gingrich added, "It sure should be a signal to Democrats that his joint session speech didn't work."