MADISON, N.H. – Mitt Romney, meeting the press in his must-win primary state amid rising support for Newt Gingrich, said Monday that he will not say “offensive” or “incendiary” things about his opponents or President Obama because that would hurt Republican chances to win the White House. But that did not stop Romney from contending that Gingrich doesn’t understand how the “real economy” works and from raising the prospect that he will run negative ads during a primary contest that Romney now says could last months.
Gingrich has been attacking Romney for closing and shrinking some companies while he headed Bain Capital. Romney said that the Gingrich remarks, which echo Democratic critiques, show that he doesn’t understand “the real economy,” in which some businesses succeed and others fail.
“There's a big difference between working in the private economy and working on K Street and working as a lobbyist or working as a legislator or working to connect businesses with government,” Romney told reporters after a town hall at the Madison Lumber Mill, referring to Gingrich. “If he was working as a spokesman for Fannie Mae - excuse me, Freddie Mac -- if he was there because of his political connections, and then if Freddie Mac fails, I think a fair question is asked: Why did he profit as Freddie Mac failed?”
Romney said he will be having more press conferences, running more ads, and appearing on more TV shows now that the first contests are growing close. The Iowa caucuses are on Jan. 3 and Romney noted that people in Florida can start voting three to four weeks before their Jan. 31 primary. He said that all his ads so far are positive but that could change.
“This is, after all, politics; there is no whining in politics,” Romney said. “You get in a political process, and you fight hard and describe the differences between yourself and the other candidates.”
Don’t look for Romney to become more like Gingrich. “I know that among some folks, just saying outrageous an incendiary things will get you kudos and drive your number up, but it’s not going to win you the White House, and it’s not going to win us the respect of people on the other side of the aisle that we have to bring together,” Romney said. The way to win the White House, he said, is to go after President Obama as “an extraordinary failure” –- not “an evil person.”
Romney finished the day at a lucrative fundraiser in Parsippany, N.J. New Jersey Republican Gov. Chris Christie, one of Romney's most prominent supporters, told the crowd of about 500 that $1.1 million was collected.
“More important than any of the positions [Romney] holds, more important than any of the jobs he’s had, more important than any of that is that standing here on my left is a good and decent man who will always make you proud he’s your president,” Christie said.
Romney, in an apparent attempt to address criticism of his being out of touch after jokingly proposing a $10,000 bet with Rick Perry at Saturday's debate, told the crowd that "my dad" -- former Michigan Gov. George Romney -- "grew up poor; my mom" -- Lenore LaFount Romney -- "grew up with more affluence.”