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Newt Gingrich wants to hear the roar of his supporters

Shannon Stapleton / Reuters

Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich speaks during a campaign stop at Dolphin Aviation in Sarasota, Fla. on Jan. 24, 2012.

This morning I was talking with my newsroom cubicle neighbor about Monday night’s Florida GOP debate. Specifically, we were discussing what “editorial effect” Brian Williams might have had on both the audience and the candidates when he asked them to hold their applause to a minimum at the beginning of the debate. I didn’t think it had an effect, but my colleague suggested that the quieter audience may have held Newt Gingrich back. A few hours later, his theory was confirmed when Gingrich said he may not participate in future debates if his supporters are asked to be quiet.

Reuters reports: Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich, coming off one of his most subdued debate performances of the campaign, signaled on Tuesday he may skip future debates unless his supporters are given full license to clap, cheer and roar.

Gingrich complained that NBC News moderator Brian Williams had told the crowd to be silent before Monday's debate in Tampa in an effort to stifle free speech and prevent the audience from turning on the media.

"I wish in retrospect I'd protested when Brian Williams took them out of it because I think it's wrong," Gingrich said on Tuesday on Fox News.

Watch the full NBC News/National Journal/Tampa Bay Times GOP presidential debate as Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney set a combative ahead of Florida's Jan. 31 primary.