Time for Mitt Romney to take on Newt Gingrich?
With Newt Gingrich passing Mitt Romney in the polls, some politicos say the affable Romney must ramp up attacks on Gingrich. But others say that could ruin Romney's brand.
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"I must admit that Newt has had a very extensive, long record of working in Washington with various governmental and nongovernmental agencies, and I just don't think that's the background that's ideally suited, one, to replace Barack Obama, and No. 2, to lead the country," Romney said on Fox News last Friday. "This is not a matter of that America needs better lobbyists, or better dealmakers, better insiders – I think America needs a leader."Skip to next paragraph
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Romney surrogates have also made polite attacks on Gingrich, without getting too deep into the weeds on Gingrich’s professional past.
“Gingrich has never run anything, and he’s been a legislator,” New Jersey governor and Romney backer Chris Christie (R) told a Florida website, FLDemocracy2012.com, last week. “Look at the guy we have in the White House now, he never ran anything and was a legislator.”
Polls show that while many GOP voters have warmed to the Gingrich candidacy, some remain unaware of his baggage: the fact that he was driven from the speakership in 1998 amid charges of weak leadership and under an ethical cloud, after just four years; the $1.6 million to $1.8 million he received in fees for advising controversial mortgage giant Freddie Mac; a record of flip-flopping on policy issues.
Mr. O’Connell suggests that it matters how new information comes out on Gingrich. If it comes from House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi or a pro-Romney super political action committee, voters are likely to discount it.
Fergus Cullen, a former GOP state chair in New Hampshire, says that because Gingrich represents a threat to everyone in the Republican field – including former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann, Texas Gov. Rick Perry, and Texas Rep. Ron Paul – Romney will get help.
Mr. Cullen also questions the notion that Romney will look bad if he goes after Gingrich.
“Romney went after Perry on substance back in September, and it didn’t harm Romney’s image,” says Cullen, who is neutral in the race. “In fact, it made him look tough, and strong enough to take on President Obama. So having Newt as a foil can help Romney.”
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