Republican presidential contender Newt Gingrich today made the case that those who have been collecting jobless benefits for extended periods of time should be required to enroll in job-training programs, saying that "we shouldn't give people 99 weeks to do nothing," our colleagues at WUSF in Tampa report.
The former House Speaker made his comment during an interview on WFLA radio in Tampa.
"We should change unemployment compensation so if you need unemployment compensation, you also sign up for a training program run by a business," Gingrich said, according to WUSF. "I mean, we shouldn't give people 99 weeks to do nothing. And then we say, we can't get people to work, well, no, you've given them 99 weeks of money, with no requirement for any effort."
Gingrich, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum and Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) are competing in the Jan. 31 Florida Republican presidential primary. After his decisive win Saturday in South Carolina's primary, Gingrich has upended the race. Heading into that contest, it looked as if Romney might wrap up the nomination soon. Now, it appears the Republican battle could continue for weeks if not months.
Fresh polls from Florida, according to Real Clear Politics, show Gingrich edging ahead of Romney in that state.
Tonight, the four contenders debate in Tampa. The event is being broadcast and webcast by one of the sponsors, NBC News. And we'll be helping our friends on the NPR elections desk by live blogging, over at It's All Politics. The debate starts at 9 p.m. ET.
The Associated Press says the pre-debate charges and countercharges have already been heated: "Romney began running an ad that said Gingrich 'cashed in' with home-loan giant Freddie Mac while Floridians were being crushed in the housing crisis. Gingrich mocked Romney as someone campaigning on openness 'who has released none of his business records.' "