Gingrich was assaulted by a slew of negative ad runs by one particular super PAC aligned with friends of Mitt Romney, but those ads were hardly unfair. It ain't a cliche to say that the former House Speaker has loads of so-called "baggage"; the problem for Newt in Iowa is that he didn't have the ability to air competing ads challenging some of the assertions made in them.
So while Newt tries to stay positive in the Granite State, his surrogates are under no such mandate. On Thursday afternoon two former members of Congress who served with him back in the day — Ohio Representative Bob McEwen and New Hampshire U.S. Senator Bob Smith — participated on a conference call, during which they denounced Romney repeatedly by calling him what has become a dirty word in Republican circles in recent years: a "moderate."
"It's the moderate failed wing of the party," McEwen said disgustingly, naming a number of battleground states that he says won't rally for an "Obama-lite" candidate.
McEwen added that when Gingrich was revolutionizing the country by having the House go Republican for the first time in 40 years in 1994, Romney opposed every candidate who was running in Massachusetts on the Contract With America platform.
"A Massachusetts moderate is not going to sound a trumpet for tea party members, evangelicals.. these people who have not even been reached out to, they dismiss them, but they’re the core of the flyover country, between the Hudson and the California border and to diss them, and not to include them, would be a failure for our party and a dangerous step for our nation," McEwen thundered.
Former Senator Bob Smith, who lived in Sarasota not that long ago and flirted with running for the GOP nomination for U.S. Senate before giving up that ghost, reiterated the point that Romney spent millions in Iowa and actually received less votes than he did in January 2008.
Going back to the days when Romney ran against Ted Kennedy in the U.S. Senate in '94, Smith said, "Barack Obama is going to say..you were to the left of Ted Kennedy on some issues," which let's be honest, is dubious at best.
Smith also blasted Romney for not being more critical of the negative ads produced by Restore Our Future, the super PAC backing Romney which spent more than $3.3 million on direct-mail and advertising to pummel Gingrich in Iowa.
"That's a pretty poor excuse to say 'I didn't coordinate them,'" Smith growled. "If Mitt Romney feels this way about his fellow conservatives today, what's he going to do if he's elected?" Smith added that Newt didn't "start any of this," alluding to the new war of words. "He was above the fray," he said, alluding to Gingrich's call in the earlier debates for candidates not to trash each other but focus on President Obama.
Romney, Gingrich and the rest of the GOP presidential field (sans Rick Perry) will engage in two televised debates over the weekend: Saturday night at 9 p.m. on ABC, and Sunday morning on NBC's Meet The Press, which will air in the Tampa Bay area at 10 a.m.