WASHINGTON, May 22 (UPI) -- Republican U.S. presidential candidate Newt Gingrich is sticking by his contention that Medicare reform should be a gradual process with public input.
Gingrich said Sunday on CBS' "Face the Nation" he would like to see the national healthcare program shift toward subsidized private insurance coverage; however, it should not be a "take it or leave it" proposition that could result in a political disaster for the GOP.
"I think it is a big plan that needs to be worked through with the American people," Gingrich said. "If Republicans approach it that way and have a conversation with the American people, we will in fact totally defeat the Democrat scare tactics and the American people will give us permission to have a very significant reform of Medicare."
Gingrich came under sharp criticism from the Republican establishment last week when he cautioned "right-wing social engineering" was not better than the much-despised "Obamacare" proposals.
Gingrich said Sunday he was speaking in general about the concept and was not taking a shot at an ambitious overhaul proposed by rising star Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., based on private health insurance.
"This is the beginning of a conversation," Gingrich said. "He and I are on the same side in that conversation and (President) Obama is on the opposite side of that conversation."