Gingrich, Trump meet in New York City

December 5, 2011 3:16:38 PM PST
Newt Gingrich, the fifth Republican presidential candidate to meet with Donald Trump, described him as a "true American icon."

He spoke after a private meeting today with Trump in New York.

Gingrich says he persuaded the celebrity real estate mogul to mentor a group of children from New York's poorest schools.

Gingrich recently sparked controversy by suggesting that disadvantaged children as young as 9 should be encouraged to clean their schools in order to learn about work. He says he wants Trump to help "get them into the world of work" and into "the opportunity to earn money." Gingrich says they should get "into the habit of showing up and realizing that effort is rewarded."

Trump says he was happy to take up the challenge. He says ten young children will be chosen, and made into little apprentices.

He said after the meeting that he's impressed with Gingrich's performance during the GOP presidential campaign. But he said he wouldn't endorse a candidate until after he hosts a televised debate in Iowa a week before the state's caucuses.

Trump has hinted he might run as an independent if Republicans nominate a candidate who can't win.

Gingrich's campaign, ramping up its operations in early nominating states, was also meeting with former Herman Cain aides and advisers now looking for jobs. While Cain's endorsement remained up for grabs, Gingrich and his rivals were looking to schedule one-on-one meetings this week with the former pizza executive.

Gingrich, the former House speaker from Georgia, has so far been the biggest beneficiary of Cain's slide. A Des Moines Register poll conducted Nov. 27-30 and released late Saturday found the former House speaker leading the GOP field with 25 percent support, ahead of Paul at 18 percent and Romney at 16.

A separate NBC News/Marist poll showed Gingrich beating Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, 26 percent to 18 percent, among Republican caucus attendees in Iowa.

Gingrich also is enjoying national popularity that could give him the momentum he needs to overcome deficiencies in the organization of his campaign. At the same time, Gingrich says he knows his surge in the polls could disappear if his opponents stage a comeback.