Laconia, New Hampshire (CNN) – Fourth-place Iowa finisher Newt Gingrich refused to congratulate Mitt Romney for eking out a narrow caucus victory but acknowledged that, unlike Ron Paul, he would endorse the former Massachusetts governor if he clinched the Republican nomination.
Gingrich told reporters in New Hampshire, “Romney is better than (President) Barack Obama, period. I think there are huge weaknesses of Romney. I don’t think he can get elected but if he’s the nominee I would support him.”
- Follow the Ticker on Twitter: @PoliticalTicker
The former House speaker is honing his message on the trail, drawing sharper contrasts to the frontrunner ahead of the first-in-the-nation primary on January 10.
His first assault was a full-page ad in New Hampshire’s influential Union Leader newspaper Wednesday that compared the record of “bold Ronald Reagan conservative” Gingrich to “timid Massachusetts moderate” Romney.
The most biting statements Gingrich unleashed on his opponents didn’t come on the stump before New Hampshire voters but through that newspaper ad and press availabilities.
The Gingrich campaign said it also plans to release television ads in the same vein this week in the Granite State, as well as in the early primary voting states of South Carolina and Florida.
Speaking to reporters in Concord and Laconia, Gingrich cast the two-time presidential candidate as unelectable because he won Iowa by a small margin on Tuesday and picked up only 66 more votes than in 2008.
“I find it amazing the news media continues to say he is the most electable Republican when he can't even break out in his own party,” Gingrich said in Concord. “But the fact is that Gov. Romney in the end has a very limited appeal in a conservative party. And by the way - you look at the dollars spent by Romney and the dollars spent by (Rick) Santorum, you'd praise Santorum, too.”
He added in Laconia, “The idea that (Romney’s) electable is just silly.”
Although Gingrich rarely mentions Romney by name, he is bringing up presidential opponent Texas Rep. Ron Paul regularly in his stump speech. It’s one indication that Paul’s groundswell of grassroots support in early nominating states poses a threat to Gingrich's candidacy.
“This is not some shallow PR game by some politician. This is a candidate for president who says 9/11 is America’s fault, the Iranians can have a nuclear weapon and he doesn’t care, and if Israel disappears it is not our problem. I think that needs to be taken head on,” Gingrich said of Paul, who came in third in Iowa behind Romney and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum.
Gingrich is hoping his new strategy will pay dividends in New Hampshire - at least chip away at Romney’s lead - and pave the way for a win in South Carolina.
“In this campaign so far I've been dead once, resurrected, limping along, the frontrunner, drowned in a tidal wave of Romney and Ron Paul negative ads, recovered - so I don't worry about much of anything,” he said.
- Follow Shawna Shepherd on Twitter: @ShepherdCNN.
Paul: Gingrich a 'chickenhawk'
Iowa outcome: What it means for the president
McCain backs former foe Romney over Senate colleague Santorum
Army soldier rallying for Paul violated military ban on political activity
Romney NH ad alleges Obama broke promises
Gingrich is spinning like crazy but it only makes him more and more unattractive.
Go get him Newt !
At least you admit to being a crook and a position !
Romney acts like Mr Rogers from the dark side of planet flip flop.
This is a very destructive tantrum Newt is throwing.
aHA - the Newt/Santorum "love" makes sense now.
Santorum warned Sen Ensign he was about to be outed and helped him cover his butt.
Guess Newt thinks he mght just "come in handy" some day if Newt pulls any more of his cheating shenanigans.
The plot thickens..................................
Say goodnight, Newt.
Every single one of them turn my stomach.
Gingrich is one arrogant human being. No one in their right mind should ever vote for him to be a nominee for the White House. I am sick and tired of Gingrich already.
He can afford to praise Santorum because he knows Santorum is not a threat. And he'll be eating his words about Romney not moving forward with his own party next week when the NH votes are in. Everyone knows that Evangelical Iowans are mostly Mormonphobic and the fact that Romney did well there is amazing–and can only be attributed to his ELECTABILITY. Obama knows Romney's electable; Gingrich should figure it out too.
sounds like you're lying again, newter – not to mention that you are already contradicting yourself in two paragraphs.
Let me repeat what you are contradicting there, newster.
""Fourth-place Iowa finisher Newt Gingrich refused to congratulate Mitt Romney""
""but if he’s the nominee I would support him""
sounds like a Liar to me.
"Fourth-place Iowa finisher Newt Gingrich refused to congratulate Mitt Romney for eking out a narrow caucus victory"
Poor, poor fourth place finisher, newtie. He did tell us recently that HE would be the nominee–just look at the polls. Lol. You need a reality check, newtie. Iowa basically told you to get lost and the rest of our nation will follow. Jealous temper-tantrum-throwing candidates will not be given the privilege of running our country.
Given that President Obama used Romney's healthcare plan as a model for the country, I would say that Romney is Obama-lite. In any case, all the GOP candidates are better than you. And President Obama stands head and shoulders are above the entire bunch of you.
Newt finally told the truth Romney is unelectable. Period.
I'm no fan of Santorum but I did like the fact he got out and talked directly with the people. I wish candidates of both parties would do that. IF they really want our votes go out and TALK TO THE PEOPLE. I think it would be far more effective.
u got money for wars but wont feed the poor..doesn't matter who wins they'll get crushed by our black president...
Lizard lies! He lays in the grass to strike Romney in the back with the other GOBP dirty tricksters. They will do anything for money and power.