Cedar Rapids, Iowa (CNN) – The day before Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich were to face off at a GOP presidential debate, Romney seemed largely content to leave the attacks on his rival to others.
In recent days the former Massachusetts governor's campaign has deployed surrogates and released a web ad critical of Gingrich to try to dim the former House speaker's rising star.
But at a town hall in at a nutritional animal feed plant in Cedar Rapids on Friday, Romney took few digs at Gingrich, reserving much of his fire for President Barack Obama.
Romney was repeatedly asked about the former House speaker, who leads in the polls in Iowa.
A man in the audience gave the candidate a perfect opening, asking him about a Republican plan to overhaul Medicare that, he said, notably lacked support from "one of the candidates in the race."
In May Gingrich called the plan "right-wing social engineering" but quickly walked back his statement.
"This is a place where Speaker Gingrich and I disagree," Romney said Friday. "He called this right-wing social engineering."
Romney then went on to describe the details of his plan.
That morning Romney's campaign had released a web video attacking Gingrich for his comments about the proposal - a comment Romney surrogate John Sununu called "self-aggrandizing" and "self-serving" on a call with reporters Friday.
Another audience member asked Romney about why he was the best candidate to take on Obama in general election debates.
"I understand the economy, not just as an academic, not just a politician, but as someone who has worked in the economy for 25 years," he said, in what seemed to be a veiled slight towards Gingrich's career as a history professor and congressman.
But at a press conference following his speech - the third such media availability in a week - Romney said any of the Republicans in the race would be better than Obama.
"Yes, they're all qualified, including Speaker Gingrich," he said.
Romney would not repeat the Gingrich attack made by Sununu, the former governor of New Hampshire.
"I can't write a script for Gov. Sununu or anybody else," he said.
During his event Romney also discussed the hot-button issue of immigration with Iowa voters, telling a man that illegal immigrants might "have a transition time to allow them to set their affairs in order and then go back home and get in line with everybody else."
He added "we're not going to go across the country and round people up. That's just too big of a task."
After the event Romney's campaign released a statement about a decision by the National Labor Rights Board to drop its suit against Boeing over a labor dispute. In the statement Romney called the move a "welcome step" but continued his criticism of the agency.
"Thanks to President Obama's appointees, the NLRB has become a rogue agency that tramples on the rights of American workers and businesses, injecting job-killing uncertainty into the economic climate," Romney said in the statement.
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Romney is an absolute WIMP. Get a backbone, Mitt.
Romney can't initiate anything; he's always following from behind. And then he'll change his mind.
Flip flopper, spinelesss, elitist, a Donald T-Rump apologist for not making the debate, appeaser, limp wristed, wealthy spoiled brat are just a few of Mittens attributes.
Romney continues to lead the train of clowns from the caboose.
Our Country would be in a huge trouble with any of those canditates as a President.
How does Mitt Romney stand upright without a spine?
Leading from behind, Mittens. Perhaps Willard can get a spine and a pair for Christmas.
Romney is too weak to stand up for himself. Besides how would he know who he is today? He has no clue what he believes about anything. A person who has no real values, beliefs, principles or leadership strength is NOT ready to be our President. Same words apply to Gingrich. He used to support Obama's healthcare and the individual mandate. He used to believe in ending specualtion on Wall St with oil etc. He used to believe in everything Obama has been doing. Now he has once again committed adultery of his own beliefs just to appeal to the audience of the moment. These Republican candidates are a joke.
He's just standing there looking pretty, hoping to get picked for the dance.
What a leader. Not even assertive enough to attack a giant easy target.
I hope Romney realizes that if he doesn't show some spine with Gingrich, that his campaign will enter a death spiral. Romney needs to realize that the 11th Commandment was a gimmick to disarm Reagan's opponents from attacking his weaknesses. Reagan had name recognition, but lots of soft spots. He tricked his opponents into not attacking him on issues. Romney needs to show that he can "be the beast" that the right wing wants, instead of the schmoozer that he is.
People should look more at Jon Huntsman.
Romney looks more human without all that plastic make-up.........not that he sounds more human – just looks.
Our Country would be in a huge trouble with any of those canditates as a President
Right. Obama has lead us to the Promised Land of perpetual high unemployment, perpetual deficits, perpetual debt. We're just sooo better off than we were 3 years ago...NOT! "Huge trouble" is what you'll get with 4 more years of Obama when he bankrupts the country.
Mitt is the only hope we have in turning this country around. There is no argument he is the most business savy, and as a Massachusetts resident AND medical employee I can go on about all of the stark differences between his and Obama's plans. We are in a lot of trouble if Mitt isnt elected
Our Country would be in a huge trouble with any of those canditates as a President.
Yeah, if you call getting jobs so people can work for a living 'huge trouble'...
Mitt – you're the only one who can save us from these retards in washington
Since when did Romney get credited for what the News/Opinion/PAC Media puts in our face. Which is odd since Obama has most of the outlets in his pocket to be the attack dogs.
It's amazing how the liberal politic gets away with the double standard. It's like "Don't look at us; check out those that are expected to be living a higher standard that we". Another example of how the snow can get washed away in the rain.
GOP is full of Clowns. They are the ones that this current problem exists in America. Just boot out all these Republican idiots in next elections. Please. Obama2012.
PS; Obama needs strict security....too,
Democrats answer to everything, TAX THE RICH, TAX BUSINESS:
" "Huge trouble" is what you'll get with 4 more years of Obama when he bankrupts the country": sorry, it was bankrupt when he got the job. Boy, it really warms the heart when the GOP wants to take us back to those wonderful days of 2008. Man everything was so great, with 401ks evaporating, people losing their life saving, the winderful spectacle of TARP and the first bailout ( which Cheney endorsed). Too bad you seem to think a failed Speaker and a failed on-term governor and coproate raider have the answers, but, all you seem to have are snarky comments and no solutions, like a true conservative. You claim to be forward looking, how do u plan to pay down the debt without devastating our society, or is that your intention to turn us into Panama?
Mitt "I'm a business man, and that's all you need to know!" Romney does nothing but talk about Barack Obama's record, because Mitt Romney doesn't want to talk about on own his lousy record. The wimp has been skating along without any scrutiny. If he ends up being the nominee, that will change.
This man has no plan, just whatever Obama is doing I'll change that. He probably don't even know what he'll change and then of course he'll probably change his mind. Confusing ain't it.
Romney is not in this thing for money. He's successfully made enough of that. He's not in this to further a career. He's been successful at that. He clearly cares a lot about his family, and it seems he wants to make America better for them. He doesn't seem to be asking what the Presidency can do for him, rather what he can do for it. I'm not seeing that, genuinely, from some of the other GOP candidates.
Mitt Romney is doing a wonderful job .... making Gingrich look gracious, thoughtful and Presidential, while at the same time making himself look bitter, small minded and egotistical. He doesn't need surrogates to torpedo his prospects. He's doing so all by himself, thank you very much!