Romney camp shifts into attack mode as Gingrich threatens (Video)
A new Romney ad released Friday lambasts Newt Gingrich for his criticism last spring of a fellow Republican. The gloves are off, but the Romney campaign is so far using surrogates for the fight.
Mitt Romney is getting tough – Romney-style.Skip to next paragraph
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The former governor of Massachusetts is taking on Newt Gingrich – finally, say supporters – after being eclipsed by the former House speaker in polls for the Republican presidential nomination. But Mr. Romney is largely delegating the attacks to others.
In an ad released Friday morning, the Romney campaign went after Mr. Gingrich for attacking fellow Republican Paul Ryan, a rising star in the party, over his plan last spring to reform Medicare. He had called the plan “right-wing social engineering.” Romney himself doesn’t appear in the ad. Instead, his campaign relies on clips of other Republicans and conservative commentators to make his case.
“He doesn’t have the discipline that you want in a president,” columnist Charles Krauthammer says of Gingrich.
“He called [the Ryan plan] radical … basically he is out on the left wing of the Republican Party,” says commentator Pat Buchanan.
In the finale, the ad has a clip of Represenative Ryan himself speaking of Gingrich’s criticism at the time: “With allies like that, who needs the left?”
In a conference call with reporters Thursday, two Romney surrogates – former New Hampshire Gov. John Sununu and former Sen. Jim Talent of Missouri –also criticized Gingrich for his approach to Ryan's plan, which the Romney campaign presents as emblematic of Gingrich's overall character. Mr. Sununu accused Gingrich of “irrational behavior” and “anti-principled actions.” Mr. Talent said Gingrich was “not a reliable and trusted conservative leader.”
“What he did to Paul Ryan is a perfect example of irrational behavior that you do not want in the commander-in-chief,” said Sununu, who also served as White House chief of staff under the first President Bush.
The Romney campaign has made clear there will be more such calls. The campaign has also released an ad focused on Romney’s history of personal constancy – including his 42-year marriage to Ann Romney, complete with footage of the Romneys and their brood of boys. The unspoken contrast is to Gingrich, who has been divorced twice and has admitted to extramarital affairs.
Previous challengers to Romney’s once steady if underwhelming lead in GOP polls have faded without Romney having to lift a finger. But Gingrich is different. He may be the last conservative standing, and now with a solid lead in polls, both nationally and in early-nominating states, Gingrich poses a significant threat to Romney’s aspirations for the presidency.