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Charles Dharapak, Associated Press
Republican presidential candidate, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, accompanied by his wife Callista, speaks during a campaign stop at the Southbridge Mall in Mason City, Iowa, Wednesday, Dec. 28, 2011.

MASON CITY, Iowa — Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich said Wednesday a luxury cruise he took through the Greek Isles earlier this year that prompted top aides to flee his campaign was designed to show he's "a different kind of candidate."

Gingrich said the trip, which came just days after he formally announced in May he would seek the presidency, had always been planned to give him time to think.

"I think you need to pace yourself. You need to get a sense of distance," he told reporters following a campaign event in Mason City.

And Gingrich said being in Greece during that country's financial crisis was helpful.

"It gave me a much deeper perspective of how hard this is going to be," he said of the economic struggles ahead.

At the time, however, Gingrich's Greek cruise was seen by many political observers as evidence that he wasn't serious about pursuing the White House. Shortly after he returned, the entire top echelon of his fledgling presidential campaign resigned. An aide said at the time there was a question of Gingrich's commitment as well as a path to victory.

Gingrich said Wednesday that from the beginning he wanted to run a different campaign focused on big ideas

"The consultants found this very mystifying, very strange," he said. The trip with his wife, Callista, forced the issue, making clear that he would call the shots, he said.

"Either they wanted to be the advisers to my campaign or they needed to leave because I couldn't be the candidate to their campaign," he said.

The comments came on the second day of a bus tour in Iowa where Gingrich has been promoting his economic plans.

The former House speaker distanced himself from a mailer circulating in Iowa and paid for by a political action committee that supports him. The mailer says Republican rival Mitt Romney is the "second most dangerous man in America."

Gingrich had previously pledged to disavow any independent political action committee working on his behalf that went negative.

"I would discourage them from sending out that kind of negative information. I think that's wrong," Gingrich said Wednesday.

He said all of his ads in advance of next week's leadoff Iowa caucuses will be positive.

"You can fight in a positive way. You can be very strong in a positive way," he said.

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