Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich accused Mitt Romney of using Wall Street money to “carpet bomb” him in Florida with dishonest ads, stepping up his attacks on his primary rival in Florida’s critical Tuesday primary.
Initial polls after Gingrich’s blowout victory in South Carolina showed Gingrich with a sizeable lead in Florida, one of the most delegate-rich states, but more recent surveys show Romney pulling away with the race. A Romney victory, paired with the former governor’s sizeable financial advantage and well-organized campaign infrastructure, would allow Romney to regain his long-held status as the undisputed frontrunner.
Gingrich, trying to lower expectations ahead of Tuesday’s vote, said the primary would be extremely close but suggested that he expected Romney to win. The former House speaker was clearly trying to adjust expectations so a Florida loss wouldn’t allow Romney to pull away in the race.
“He has a basic policy of carpet bombing his opponent,” Gingrich said on Fox News Sunday. “It has an effect.”
Gingrich bashed Romney for raising sizeable amounts of money on Wall Street and specifically mentioned Goldman Sachs, a firm which is wildly unpopular with tea party voters because of the size of its government bailout during the 2008 financial collapse.
“I give Gov. Romney’s campaign due respect for the sheer volume of negativity that they use and the sheer amount of money they raise on Wall Street,” Gingrich said.
Gingrich has been widely panned for his performance in last week’s Florida debate, the last before voters there head to the polls, and acknowledged on Sunday that he had been “flat.” But he turned the concession into yet another attack on Romney, arguing that he didn’t know how to debate a rival who “stands there and just blatantly doesn’t tell the truth.”
The blistering comments were especially notable because Gingrich largely ignored President Obama and instead focused the vast majority of his remarks on Romney. Romney has hit Gingrich hard, but maintained a consistent focus on Obama as part of an effort to portray himself as the inevitable Republican nominee.
Rep. Paul Ryan, the chairman of the House Budget Committee and one of its rising stars, used an appearance on the same show to signal his discomfort with Gingrich’s attacks on Romney for his time at Bain Capital.
“We need to defend the morality of the free enterprise system and upward mobility, Ryan said. “It does bother me when some candidates go after each other based on their success in their free enterprise system.”
Unlike Gingrich, Ryan used the bulk of his appearance to bash Obama for his State of the Union address, arguing that the president’s economic policies would lead to a “future of debt, doubt and decline.”
Ryan also charged that Obama’s proposals to raise taxes on millionaires would harm job creation and do little to close the nation’s expanding budget deficit.
“The president isn’t leading,” Ryan said. “The president isn’t being truthful with the American people about what kind of fiscal train-wreck is coming.”