McCain brushes off Gingrich's criticism of presidential field

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. - John McCain on Tuesday brushed aside derogatory comments made by former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who blasted McCain and other Republican presidential candidates while hinting he might enter the race himself.

'I see the former member of the House of Representatives as a person who has many, many comments to make, and he's made many, many comments critical of me in the past,' McCain told reporters Tuesday after attending a fundraiser in Grand Rapids. 'We had a fundamental disagreement about the role of money in politics.'

Speaking at a Monday breakfast event in Washington sponsored by The American Spectator, a conservative magazine, Gingrich labeled the GOP presidential field as a 'pathetic' bunch of 'pygmies,' the San Francisco Examiner reported.

In an interview with the newspaper, Gingrich, a Georgia Republican, hinted he might enter the race under the right circumstances but said he had 'no interest in trying to figure out how I can go out and raise money under John McCain's insane censorship rules so I can show up to do seven minutes and twenty seconds at some debate.'

The Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002, which McCain, a senator from Arizona, co-sponsored with Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wis., places limits on how much money can be raised by candidates and campaigns and on how much can be used. Christian broadcasters have said it restricts what they can tell voters before elections.

'If Mr. Gingrich decides he wants to get into the presidential campaign for the nomination of our party, then I would take some of his comments more seriously,' said McCain, who campaigned Monday evening in Benton Harbor, about 85 miles southwest of Grand Rapids.