Romney surrogates shadow Gingrich campaign
January 27th, 2012
09:57 PM ET
2 years ago

Romney surrogates shadow Gingrich campaign

Delray Beach, Florida (CNN) - Newt Gingrich's campaign spokesman confronted a high-profile Mitt Romney surrogate who was sent to spin reporters at a Gingrich event Friday.

Utah Rep. Jason Chaffetz, who acts as a campaign surrogate for Mitt Romney, has become a familiar face at Gingrich's campaign stops this week, along with Florida Rep. Connie Mack. Gingrich Press Secretary R.C. Hammond has not been afraid to engage both congressmen with questions about Romney's record.

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On Friday, reporters and television cameras flocked to Hammond when he made a beeline for Chaffetz at a Republican Jewish Coalition event. It was the second time in two days Hammond singled Chaffetz out.

Chaffetz dismissed Hammond's persistent inquiries about Romney voting in the 1992 Democratic presidential primary, saying he was there to answer questions from reporters.

"What are you trying to accomplish here? I'm happy to answer the questions from the accredited media," Chaffetz said.

The Romney backer said he came to the event to "offer perspective" to voters and members of the media. But when someone asked about "Obamacare" being linked too closely with the health care law implemented by Romney in Massachusetts, Chaffetz deferred to the candidate himself.

"I think he gave a great eloquent answer," Chaffetz responded, pointing to Romney's CNN debate performance. "He addressed it several times. I'll leave it in his own words."

Romney's robust presidential campaign will continue to dispatch high-profile surrogates to Gingrich events, Chaffetz said. If they win the nomination, they'll likely target President Barack Obama's campaign stops as well.

"If you think it's aggressive now, wait until he's the nominee and he's going up against Barack Obama. He's going to run a very proactive, aggressive campaign," Chaffetz said.

Gingrich has built up his Florida campaign operation in a matter of months, thanks to an injection of campaign donations and a decisive win in South Carolina. But it will be difficult for him to match Romney's fierce communications staff, the muscle behind the candidate's conference calls, opposition emails and surrogate outreach.

Chaffetz told reporters he thought Hammond's behavior was a "little immature" and "unprofessional."

Reporters asked the congressman whether it was appropriate to show up at Gingrich's campaign events. He said, "It's a perfectly acceptable thing to do."

"It is exactly what Newt Gingrich has said time and time again," said Chaffetz. "He would follow the president everywhere he went."

Chaffetz was referring to the former speaker's challenge to Obama, if he clinches the nomination, to hold several Lincoln-Douglas style debates. Gingrich has said if the president refuses, he'll travel four hours behind him to deliver a rebuttal speech. But he never said he would appear at Obama's speeches like Romney's campaign surrogates are doing.

Chaffetz used the encounter with the Gingrich spokesperson as an example of the former speaker and his campaign becoming "unhinged."

On Thursday, Gingrich was surprised to find out Romney was deploying staff to offer rebuttals to his speeches. A reporter asked him why he wasn't doing the same.

He quipped, "He doesn't say anything worth rebutting."

Follow Shawna Shepherd on Twitter: @ShepherdCNN.

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Filed under: 2012 • Florida • Jason Chaffetz • Newt Gingrich
soundoff (17 Responses)
  1. Mike from Calgary

    HOW MUCH MONEY DID ROMNEY & BAIN EXTRACT FROM EMPLOYEE PENSION FUNDS AT TARGET COMPANIES, (Just like NHL was convicted of for stealing $25 Million from the NHL Players Association) and is that one reason Mitt "I like to fire people" Romney lost to Ted Kennedy and why he didn't bother to try to get re-elected in Massachussetts?
    Apparently in 2007, Massachussetts told Romney WE WON'T BE FOOLED AGAIN!

    January 27, 2012 10:13 pm at 10:13 pm |
  2. ToughUSA

    Breaking News Ron Paul Initiates Global Debate
    'Endorse Liberty' Super PAC to Broadcast 30 Minute Ron Paul TV Special in Florida
    Pacs buying 30 min time slots in florida
    Google It (EndorseLiberty) UNBELIEVABLE !!!!!!

    January 27, 2012 10:16 pm at 10:16 pm |
  3. ToughUSA

    Breaking News Ron Paul Initiates Global Debate
    'Endorse Liberty' Super PAC to Broadcast 30 Minute Ron Paul TV Special in Florida
    Pacs buying 30 min time slots in florida
    TYPE (EndorseLiberty) UNBELIEVABLE !!!!!!

    January 27, 2012 10:17 pm at 10:17 pm |
  4. Larry L

    Nobody does the "swift boat" like Republicans. They are the masters of dirty politics.

    January 27, 2012 10:42 pm at 10:42 pm |
  5. DENNA

    Haha. I love it . Screwing with Newt! Go Romney, go. By the way, you were right about your healthcare initiative. There is nothing wrong with helping the people of your state. Heck, your are almost good enough to be a Democrat. :-)

    January 27, 2012 11:01 pm at 11:01 pm |
  6. Anonymous

    Rmoney's "surrogate" is a Utah Rep? Sounds like the Mormon Mob is putting some muscle behind the flaccid and spineless Rmoney,

    January 27, 2012 11:13 pm at 11:13 pm |
  7. Rick McDaniel

    That's what democrats do.

    January 27, 2012 11:28 pm at 11:28 pm |
  8. tim12

    you know newt acting like he is the one with integrity, the one that says he will do all the things during hepandering, is a joke.

    January 27, 2012 11:47 pm at 11:47 pm |
  9. Norm

    He quipped, "He doesn't say anything worth rebutting."

    LOL....good answer Newt..

    January 28, 2012 01:25 am at 1:25 am |
  10. John D

    If the Republican establishment think that, they can just pick whom they want to win us!! Then Mr. Gingrich has no place in the Republican party and he should consider leaving the Republican party all together and run as an independent period!. Gingrich remember the last midterm in Alaska when the establishment gave no chance to lisa Murkowski but she proved them wrong!! you can do the same!

    January 28, 2012 01:47 am at 1:47 am |
  11. Thomas

    Utah Rep. Jason Chaffetz

    Welcome to the Mormon Mafia .

    January 28, 2012 01:48 am at 1:48 am |
  12. Robert

    This is a good reason, why obama & axelrod have been going after Newt, they are running scared and they have a
    rather poor record to run on .

    Mitt Romney will beat obama rather easily.

    January 28, 2012 04:46 am at 4:46 am |
  13. Robert

    This is a good reason, why obama & axelrod have been going after Mitt H. Romney, they are running scared and they have a rather poor record to run on .

    Mitt Romney will beat obama rather easily.

    January 28, 2012 04:47 am at 4:47 am |
  14. sick of republican phonies

    Romney and Gingrich are BOTH right. They each have convinced me that the other guy is a lying phony, unfit to be president.

    January 28, 2012 06:03 am at 6:03 am |
  15. cb

    Eighty-four ethics charges were filed against Speaker Gingrich during his term, including claiming tax-exempt status for a college course run for political purposes. However we say it, Mr. Gingrich is all about the money (ask wife number three). In a recent story, “Gingrich was ask to return the estimated $1.6 million he received for providing strategic advice to Freddie Mac, the quasi-government agency (an agency that has lost millions) that guarantees home mortgages. Gingrich has said he acted as a historian, not a lobbyist”. A “historian”, is that the history of greed? He may just sell you a book on it!

    January 28, 2012 07:47 am at 7:47 am |
  16. Anonymous

    Is that Utah rep part of the Mormon Mafia?

    January 28, 2012 07:50 am at 7:50 am |
  17. vic , nashville ,tn

    Utah Rep. Jason Chaffetz, he distract State of the Union speech, now distracting Newt campaign ridiculous
    Out political system, our leaders were good example for rest of the world can we keep it up that way

    January 28, 2012 09:03 am at 9:03 am |