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Newt Gingrich Dodges Questions About Campaign

MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- At an event at Georgetown University, GOP contender Newt Gingrich avoided all talk of his troubled campaign, including recent announcements that he would shed a third of his staff.

Instead, Gingrich gave a cheerful talk on American values, innovation and exceptionalism, themes he has struck repeatedly in recent days on the trail.

But a question posed by a Georgetown alumnus about his experience working as a janitor in his own high school as a student there cast a pall on the newly sunny Gingrich.

Earlier in his campaign, Gingrich routinely proposed that underprivileged students should work in their schools, including as janitors.

“Back in high school,” said Hector Cendejas, a 2010 Georgetown graduate, “I was a janitor in my own high school, which was a private school. For me, it was embarrassing to be a janitor at my own high school....I was poor.”

Gingrich asked Cendejas, “Did you find it useful financially to earn the money? Was there a reason you were doing it?”

“I mean, I needed to help my mom,” Cendejas said. “She was a single mom and, also, my parents were undocumented.”

“Well, I am sorry if you were offended,” Gingrich said. “Both of my daughters worked as janitors at the local Baptist Church, and they earned the money, and they didn’t think it was demeaning, and they actually liked the idea that they earned their own money as kids. And they kept their money because they thought work had inherent dignity.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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