Tampa, Florida (CNN) - Mitt Romney offered a stark warning to fellow Republicans that nominating Newt Gingrich could end in a series of surprises that could torpedo the party's hopes to re-take the White House in the fall.
Calling the former House speaker "highly erratic," Romney cautioned they could see "an October surprise a day from Newt Gingrich," if he were to become the GOP nominee.
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"He's gone from pillar to post almost like a pinball machine, from item to item in a way which is highly erratic and does not suggest a stable, thoughtful course which is normally associated with leadership," he told reporters in Tampa Monday.
The harsh rhetoric is the latest escalation in a wildly shifting race between the two men that has become increasingly negative as the party girds for a drawn-out nomination fight.
Days after Romney said in a CNN debate that he regretted the time he spent discussing his opponents instead of President Barack Obama, the candidate changed course after a resounding defeat by Gingrich in South Carolina.
Speaking with reporters, he called on Gingrich to release a list of detailed documentation: the "work product" from his work with troubled mortgage giant Freddie Mac, records from a House ethics investigation into Gingrich's activities as speaker, and a client list from Gingrich's post-congressional career – activity Romney labeled "lobbying."
"At the time he was lobbying Republican congressmen for Medicare Part D, was he working, or were his entities working with any health care companies that could have benefited from that?" Romney said. "That could represent not just evidence of lobbying but potentially wrongful activity of some kind."
Romney also called on Gingrich to return the seven-figure sum his firm earned for its work with Freddie Mac.
Gingrich has said the majority of that sum went to pay overhead and for staff at his firm.
Romney's press conference followed a housing roundtable in which Romney laid the groundwork to tie Gingrich to the foreclosure crisis gripping Florida.
The GOP candidate listened sympathetically to a group of Floridians who had suffered from falling home values and a troubled mortgage market. One woman said she could not find work and said her home was in the foreclosure process, while another man said he had considered moving out of the country in an effort to make his funds stretch further.
Romney blamed a list of agencies for failing to predict and prevent the growing housing bubble.
"There was every effort on the part of the banking industry, Wall Street, Congress, the banking guarantors Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae to keep it going," he told the group.
Later he made the connection to Gingrich more explicit.
"I wish Speaker Gingrich was here this morning to listen to those stories," Romney told the media, saying he hoped Gingrich had told Freddie Mac: "that this was a crisis about to erupt and it could be devastating to the economy to American families and that there should be a dramatic shift in the policies of Freddie Mac as well policies of government."
He added: "I didn't hear that nationally I didn't hear him making those warnings to the nation."
Meanwhile, the Romney campaign also released a harsh new television ad attacking Gingrich for having "cashed in" on the foreclosure crisis.
"While Florida families lost everything in the housing crisis, Newt Gingrich cashed in," the ad said.
The former Massachusetts governor defended his new attacks on Gingrich Monday as a description of "distinctions" between himself and the other GOP hopefuls, and signaled he would continue this new tack in two debates this week in Florida.
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Romney is reality challenged. Ignoring polls nationwide where 58% of Americans feel that the government should help in allowing people to keep their own homes. 33% of realtors say that financing is the reason people are not buying homes, and also feel that without help from Fannie and Freddie, there will be no home sales. Mittens wants people to lose their homes to investors who will rent them out, and make money on the investment when the prices go up. I wonder how his message will resonate with Floridians.
We have been bombarded by Mittens' lying PAC ads for weeks in Florida. I only hope that the seniors in the Villages and Fort Myers run him out of the state with his attack on their social security and medicare.
Being a serial flip-flopper is also 'erratic,' Mittens. Also, it is hard to support a corporate raider, a tax evader, and a spineless jelly fish.
Gee sounds like he's running scared! I guess he finally realized he may not get to run against Obama if he doesn't run agianst the other GOP hoefuls.
He should also note that in a poll released yesterday, Newt is ahead of him by nine points in Florida.
I love that the same person who says...
"At the time he was lobbying Republican congressmen for Medicare Part D, was he working, or were his entities working with any health care companies that could have benefited from that?"
...can also claim with a straight face that he has no idea what the SuperPac led by his former staffers might be up to.
So, we have all these sabre-rattling Repugnants wanting to start a war with Iran. Well, since they all believe that fetuses and corporations are people, let's draft the fetuses and corporations, and they can go to war. I don't care if a corporation gets killed in Iran.
Does a corporation have to be 18 to spend billions buying elections?
Mitt Fits! Go MITT2012!
As a die-hard SOCIAL liberal, I LOVE this stuff.
Rather than deal with Obama, the Republicans are at war with their arch-enemy, the Republicans.
Here in Georgia I can't wait to vote for Newt in this state's primary. He has done a great job at exposing Mittens as the corporate-raiding, tax dodging, phony, lying, flip-flopper that he is (doing Dems work for us). Newt is the gift that keeps on giving.
Romney love offshore investments, he can use tax code loopholes. Romney tax only 15%
Newt is making money here paying 31% tax
Newt love county , Romney love the money
Mitt Romney should release ALL OF HIS BACK TAXES dating back to 2000. Just releasing TAXES for 2010 is just not enough. Mitt is not coming CLEAN.
A Wall Street insider taking shots at a Washington insider. This is like watching Clubber Lang versus Ivan Drago. It's a Rocky movie without a good guy. Why can't you sheep wake up to the idea that there is only one candidate with integrity.
Liberty and peace. Ron Paul 2012!
Lobbyist? Perhaps paid influence peddler is more appropriate – six of one, half dozen of the other. It's just semantics, the role is the same – and so is gingrichs dishonesty.
As far as romney and his taxes are concerned, why no live up to his fathers standard of releasing 12 years – or at the very least 8 years. He's definitely hiding something or he's just innately dishonest.
What are Republicans THINKING? Seriously, Mittens would have very little chance of beating Obama (Mittens couldn't even beat McCain!) and Newt has absolutely NO chance of beating Obama. If I were a Republican (extremely thankful that I'm not), I would be very, VERY nervous. The choices are pathetic. What a weak field. Sad. But hey...at least they remind me every day why I'm voting for Obama!
The problem with Willard is–he's NEVER had to be "bothered" his entire life. All of a sudden now he's being "bothered" and he can't handle it. He actually thought he would just go to the White House with no accountability and shrug the American people off with remarks such as "I have NEVER been questioned on my integrity" and we should all just accept that and move on. That's not the case. This is the REAL world Willard and you are NOT king nor will you ever be in this country. If you want the job you will have to actually WORK for it and PROVE you are fit for the office. IF not-prepare to go back to the unemployment line which you thought was so funny and in essence was so distasteful.
Romney unleashed? There's nothing scarier than a Yorkshire Terrier off his leash.
Lets see now ???? Do we want Newt ( proven Washington insider) or Mitt ( corporate raider) ???? Tweedle Dee or Tweedle Dumber !!!!
NEWT-ANGRY OLD MAN!!! Does the GOP voters really think women voters will vote for this idiot???
If he wins the nomination Obama will win with a landside and have a clear path to destrucion of America.
VOTE MITT- he has the best chance to win.
Gingrich and Romney are candidates only for the very wealthy. That is just who they are and where they have always been; what they give the majority is only rhetoric aimed to con and manipulate.
The latest Rasmussen Florida polls shows
As if this primary hasn't been ugly enough. As if Gingrich hasn't tapped into hate and bigotry in the Republican base to advance forward. Now Rmoney is jumping on the cesspool bandwagon, too? Good grief, what have we become. Tens of thousands of years of evolution progression to this?
REG in AZ – I agree, and would expand it to encompass most of the Republican party as well as probably half of the Democratic party too.
Now with just a handful of "viable" candidates left on the stage, their warts are all being exposed and you can see just how really weak and inadequate the republican candidates for the presidency are. In a way, Nute and Mitt are very much alike. Both have and will change their stated stand on most any issue for the sake of being elected. They are actually quite different on the surface but underlying it all is the "do anything and say anything to get elected" skeleton of two very out of touch and scary would-be presidential candidates.
It is ABOUT TIME Romney takes the gloves off and starts dishing it out to Newt. He wants to run a "postitive campaign" because he's got a boat load of negatives working against him. Does he honestly think Obama and the slimey leftists are going to forget them and run a positive campaign with no negative advertising? HA! Newt better stop complaining and attacking the people that ask about them and answer the questions. He expects that from Romney so he can expect the same.
I'm appalled that the party of "family values" is even CONSIDERING this man for the highest office! He has NO values, and what about his wife......looks like a stone Barbie doll......how about her "family values" when she broke up a family! disgusting!