Spartanburg, South Carolina (CNN) - Mitt Romney hit Newt Gingrich over job creation claims Wednesday, the latest in a sudden escalation of attacks by Romney's campaign on the former House speaker.
"The Speaker the other day at the debate was talking about how he created millions of jobs when he was working with the Reagan administration," Romney told an audience standing outdoors at Wofford College in Spartanburg, South Carolina.
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"Well, he had been in Congress two years when Ronald Reagan came to office."
Romney said jobs are created by the private sector, not government.
"Congressman taking credit for creating jobs is sort of like Al Gore taking credit for creating the Internet," Romney said.
The direct hit was the latest in a torrent of coordinated criticism unleashed by Romney's campaign Wednesday, perhaps a sign the campaign sees the former speaker as a growing threat in the days before South Carolina's primary.
In contrast, Romney complimented Gingrich in a Republican debate two days earlier.
"I appreciate the speaker's work working in the Reagan years and in the Clinton years," he said during the Myrtle Beach forum. "We did see good growth in this country. I want to see that come back again."
The campaign seemed to shift tactics Wednesday, releasing a pair of web videos that featured two of Gingrich's former congressional colleagues, Rep. Susan Molinari and Sen. Jim Talent, who charged the GOP candidate was an "undisciplined" and "unreliable leader."
On a morning conference call for reporters organized by the Romney campaign, the legislators - both Romney supporters - took another opportunity to hit Gingrich's leadership record as House speaker.
The Romney campaign held a similar conference call in Iowa in early December, when Gingrich was leading in many state polls.
Molinari told reporters Gingrich lacked the "temperament" to lead the Republican party, and both legislators charged the speaker was a lone operator who did not always act in the party's best interest.
"If the speaker's the nominee, he's going to be the issue," Talent said.
In a statement, Gingrich's campaign released a list of current and retired Congressional supporters who they said stood firmly behind the former speaker's record.
"With several former and current members endorsing him, Gingrich has already proven his leadership skills during his time as Speaker, creating 11 million new jobs, balancing the budget, controlling spending, and reducing poverty levels," Gingrich spokesman R.C. Hammond said in a statement.