Paradise Valley, Arizona (CNN) - Mitt Romney signaled Tuesday he would step up his media outreach as he attempts to fend off a steadily encroaching Newt Gingrich, and vowed he "will not be quiet" about contrasting his record with that of the former House speaker.
Gingrich's lead in Iowa has solidified in recent polls, prompting questions about Romney's continued focus on attacking President Barack Obama amid what some now view as a two-man race for the GOP nomination.
The GOP candidate repeated his dismissal of Gingrich as a Washington insider in an interview with Fox News, saying Republicans had a choice in the party's primary: "If Americans want someone who's been in Washington the last 40 years, then that's him."
"We're going to make sure that the differences in our experience and perspective are well-aired," Romney said. "You can be sure I will not be quiet. I am going to make sure my message is heard loud and clear. Gingich is a friend, I respect him, but we have very different life experiences."
After his campaign event in Arizona, Romney, who has been criticized for a prickly response to an interview with a Fox News host and for avoiding media at his events, told members of the press, "I'll be seeing you more often." and took questions from them for the second time in four days. He said his campaign had planned seven more days of fundraising but that voters would see him campaigning "aggressively" in early primary states and through an uptick in television advertising.
A reporter asked the former Massachusetts governor about a Gingrich jab from a day earlier. On Monday the former House speaker suggested Romney could be considered a "career politician," although not a particularly successful one.
Romney said his failed bids for the U.S. Senate and for president in 2008 had helped him grow, in the end.
"Had I won, why we wouldn't be having this argument. I'd be president of the United States," he said. "But instead, when I lost elections, I got to go back and be a businessman again. It allowed me to be involved in the economy and to understand at the grassroots level that American people are suffering and what I can do to get jobs again."
He had one other surprise in store, acknowledging he had turned down a debate invitation from Donald Trump. Though Romney met with Trump earlier this year, he downplayed the significance by dodging members of the press who had waited outside the meeting.
Earlier in the picturesque setting outside Phoenix, former Vice President Dan Quayle helped Romney try to spell success in the border state by vouching for Romney's conservative credentials and his strength in a general election match-up against President Barack Obama.
"He'll reach out to disenchanted Democrats, to Independents, to people of all walks of life, different ethnicities, different religions, and bring America together again," Quayle said. "He is our best hope for the future."