In an attempt to balance any perception he's soft on immigration, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich blasted President Obama's efforts to sue South Carolina, Arizona and other states over their new immigration laws.

Gingrich, who is campaigning in Charleston today, made his comments after meeting with state Sen. Larry Grooms, R-Bonneau and the author of South Carolina's immigration law under challenge by the U.S. Justice Department.

"After years of failure on the part of the federal government to achieve border security, it is an outrage that the Obama Administration would seek to block South Carolina and other states who choose to pick up the slack," he said in a statement released by his campaign.

"If the Obama Administration put as much energy and resources into controlling the border as it does into attacking our own states, we would have 100 percent border security by now."

His remarks come just days after he made headlines — and gave his opponents a fresh talking point — by questioning whether the federal government should deport illegal immigrants who have lived in this country for decades and whose families are rooted here.

Gingrich called for Congress to shut off funding to the Department of Justice's lawsuits against South Carolina, Alabama, and Arizona, and any other state that passes a law to enforce federal immigration.

Gingrich will appear publicly in Charleston at 7 tonight at the Sottile Theatre, 66 George St. in a town hall meeting with Rep. Tim Scott.

Admission is free on a first-come, first-seated basis.

Read more in Tuesday's editions of The Post and Courier.