Newt Gingrich Hits Trump for His Attacks on Judge

Former Speaker of the House of Representatives Newt Gingrich said on Wednesday Donald Trump's attacks on Judge Gonzalo Curiel was a "stupid mistake." Jim Young/REUTERS

A biotechnology conference may be one of the last places to expect a political debate over the upcoming presidential election. It's almost as jarring as Newt Gingrich on stage dishing compliments toward Hillary Clinton. But both happened on a stage at the BIO International Convention in San Francisco on Wednesday.

Less than six hours after Clinton won the California Democratic primary and clinched the Democratic nomination, Gingrich, CNN host Candy Crowley and CNN political contributor Stephanie Cutter met on stage to discuss the upcoming election.

"It was important to Hillary to win California," says Gingrich. "Hillary's job is now to convince the left that Trump is unacceptable. My guess is that virtually the entire American left will unite because the prospect of Trump presidency is horrifying for them."

Gingrich also touched upon Trump's racially charged accusations of bias against Judge Gonzalo Curiel, who presides over a lawsuit involving Trump University. Gingrich called Trump an "absurd amateur," according to a transcript by reporter Rebecca Robbins. "He made a really stupid mistake last week, and it took him about three days in public to learn," Gingrich says. Gingrich took to Twitter to say he didn't make the "amateur" comment after the talk.

Totally misleading report about my talk at Bio this morning. In 90 minute dialogue made clear Trump is learning, a gifted amateur, will win

— Newt Gingrich (@newtgingrich) June 8, 2016

The election is particularly important to the biotechnology sector, said Bio CEO Jim Greenwood who moderated the panel discussion, because government dictates policy and research funding. Despite an unprecedented surge in venture capital and technological advancements in the past few years, Greenwood says an uncooperative government can undo much of the progress.

In response, Gingrich said that Trump and Clinton would bring different benefits to the industry were they to become president. He believes that as president Trump would remove regulatory barriers by reforming the Food and Drug Administration and would be aggressive with companies in Europe and China which steal American patents for their own products. But, if president, Clinton may be easier to work with. "Hillary is extraordinarily knowledgeable in this area," Gingrich says.

But that's where the debate over biotechnology and politics ended. Most of the talk was focused on the general election, Clinton's win in California and the rise of Trump. "This year has been aptly been called the middle finger campaign," Crowley said.

As for discontented supporters of Bernie Sanders, Cutter believes that most will rally behind Clinton in November. "They feel very passionate about Bernie at the moment," Cutter said, "but when this becomes Clinton versus Trump, it's going to be a whole different ballgame."

Gingrich also said the extent of the anti-Washington sentiment among voters is still a big unknown, which could push Trump into the White House. But to win the general election, Gingrich advised Trump cooperate with congressional Republican leaders to develop party unity.

"Trump's got to decide what he wants from the election now. Trump won it as a golfer, he won it by his will. You can't win a general election as a golfer. You now have a team, with [Speaker Paul] Ryan and [Senate Leader Mitch] McConnell," Gingrich said. "Now it becomes more like football."