Gingrich backs deeper ports for both SC, Georgia

BLUFFTON, S.C. (AP) - Newt Gingrich says seaports in both Savannah and Charleston, S.C., need deeper harbors so they can handle supersized container ships.

The Savannah Morning News reports that the Republican presidential candidate says he'd pay for the projects by increasing offshore drilling for natural gas.

Gingrich made the remarks Tuesday while campaigning in Bluffton, S.C., near the Georgia-South Carolina state line.

Both states are scrambling for federal permits and funding to deepen the waterways leading to the ports of Savannah and Charleston so they can accommodate giant cargo ships expected via an expanded Panama Canal in 2014.

Gingrich said he would also streamline the process for port improvements. Georgia has been trying to deepen Savannah's harbor for 14 years, a span Gingrich called "absurd."

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.