Sioux City, Iowa (CNN) - Even as Mitt Romney refrained from attacking Republican frontrunner Newt Gingrich head on in Thursday nights GOP presidential debate, one of Romney’s most senior advisers took sharp aim at Gingrich and methodically outlined why the former House speaker’s candidacy is doomed.
The adviser, media strategist Stuart Stevens, questioned Gingrich’s demeanor and criticized his "arrogance" and "condescension."
“I just think his entire manner is something that doesn’t wear well with people,” Stevens told a handful of reporters in the spin room after the Sioux City, Iowa debate.
“It’s like you see on the cover of Newsweek this week,” he said, referring to Gingrich’s brash posture in the magazines cover photo. “There is a sort of condescension, sort of an I’m smart, you’re dumb. An arrogance that he is the only one who could have these answers.”
In the debate, Stevens said, Gingrich "compared himself to just about every historical figure, except Tim Tebow that was taken by Gov. Perry."
The most important factor working in Romney’s favor, Stevens argued, is that Gingrich represents a bygone era that Republicans are eager to move beyond.
“I don’t think anybody likes to go back,” he said. “It’s not a rear view mirror election. It’s always a windshield election. People want to go forward. People don’t want to fight the old battles of the 90s. They want to know what these new solutions are.”
"There is a limit to how great a job Republicans are going to feel that President Clinton did, and the essence of his argument is that Clinton was one of our greatest presidents," Stevens claimed. "Look at all these great things that happened when President Clinton was there."
Gingrich’s recent slippage in the polls will continue, he predicted, because voters in Iowa and elsewhere are only just beginning to learn about his record, particularly his work on behalf of Freddie Mac.
Gingrich earned $1.6 million consulting for the federally-backed mortgage giant, which was linked to the collapse of the U.S. housing market.
He has denied doing any lobbying for the group on Capitol Hill.
Stevens said the Romney campaign would continue to draw contrasts with Gingrich in the final weeks before the Iowa caucuses.
Whether that means negative television and radio ads, he would not say.
Gingrich, meanwhile, has vowed to run a positive campaign in the face of increasingly tough attacks from nearly all of his GOP foes.
After the debate, Gingrich spokesman R.C. Hammond said their game plan will continue even if the criticisms escalate.
“Positive works,” Hammond said.