Presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich faced tough questions Saturday about his past statements on race and class, making a rare appearance by a Republican primary candidate before a black church — an audience unlikely to vote in South Carolina’s Jan. 21 contest.

Standing behind the lectern at Jones Memorial A.M.E. Zion Church, Gingrich was peppered with questions about his assertion that poor children lack work ethic and his criticism of President Barack Obama as a “food-stamp president.”

Gingrich may get credit for spending nearly an hour in front of a largely unsupportive crowd. But the event is unlikely to help him win many votes in South Carolina’s primary, a contest Gingrich himself has said will be make-or-break for his campaign.

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