Gingrich, Romney joust via surrogates
December 9th, 2011
06:45 PM ET
11 years ago

Gingrich, Romney joust via surrogates

Cedar Rapids, Iowa (CNN) – A storm brewing between Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich crackled behind the scenes Friday as representatives from both campaigns undercut the other on dueling media conference calls.

The Romney campaign has mounted an offensive against Gingrich this week after a series of polls showed the former House speaker’s support solidifying in many early voting states.

On Friday surrogates for Newt Gingrich called those attacks, including a web ad critical of Gingrich’s stance on a Republican entitlement reform initiative, a sign of “desperation and panic.”

Newt 2010 Iowa Chairwoman Linda Upmeyer told reporters Iowa caucus-goers would not be swayed by negative advertising.

“They don't want to see $3 million of attack ads,” Upmeyer said. “We understand a load of crap when we see it.”

A political action committee supportive of Romney’s candidacy announced a $3.1 million ad buy in Iowa that began this week. Campaign finance laws prohibit the PAC from coordinating with the Romney campaign.

Meanwhile Romney's supporters continued to play up the former Massachusetts governor's long marriage and photogenic family, and then vehemently deny suggestions the idyllic portrait was designed to contrast with Gingrich's three marriages and his acknowledged infidelity while married to his second wife.

Former Ambassador Mary Kramer told reporters on a Romney call Friday she supported Romney in part due to the "life of integrity" he had led. 

"It's such a pleasure to see him interact with his family, his wife and his sons and the family," she said. "He would never get off the rails in such a way that would embarrass us."

But after a follow-up from a reporter, Kramer said she had not meant to slight Gingrich.

"I think we all in our lives, as someone who's reached the advanced age that I have, have done things that we're not particularly proud of,” she said. “But I think it's time to look forward.”

Romney surrogate Iowa State Rep. Renee Schulte told reporters Iowans expect to study contrasts between candidates and that many factors were relevant in determining the best Republican nominee.

“It's all on display for people to decide what they think matches their own values and their best judgment,” she said. “Nobody here is saying that one person is right or wrong in what they have – the lives that they’ve chosen up to this point. But it is a contrast.”

She added: “It’s not anybody trying to attack anybody. It’s more of a difference.”

Surrogates on the Gingrich press call would not respond to questions about whether they thought the Romney campaign was making personal attacks against the former speaker.

Instead, former Rep. Greg Ganske warned a Romney attack could backfire with Iowa voters.

“I think they will see this as a sign of weakness on the part of the candidate that is attacking the speaker,” he said.

Ganske, who served with Gingrich in the House and who has hosted the former speaker this summer during the low point of his campaign, said Gingrich had grown since he last served in Congress.

“In his time out of office he has had time to think about a lot of different things,” Ganske said, calling Gingrich a “fundamentally happier person.”

As to the charges Gingrich is too undisciplined to survive a general election campaign, Ganske pointed to the speaker’s performance in a series of high-profile GOP debates this fall.

“Have you seen any major errors in those debates?” he asked. “I don’t think so.”

The two leading GOP candidates have yet to level serious attacks against each other in the public arena. But a debate Saturday night could change that.

Filed under: 2012 • Iowa • Mitt Romney • Newt Gingrich
soundoff (11 Responses)
  1. Woman In California

    "It's such a pleasure to see him interact with his family, his wife and his sons and the family," she said. "He would never get off the rails in such a way that would embarrass us."

    I would be willing to bet she felt the same way about Richard Nixon and we all know how that turned out don't we?

    December 9, 2011 06:55 pm at 6:55 pm |
  2. Tough USA

    The Eight things Newt will say at debate:
    1. It is not adultry unless the wife catches you.
    2. I did not recieve BJs while in my car and children walking by
    3. I never said young kids should mop floors (only black ones)
    4. I never took money from Fannie . they were consulting fees
    5, The 300,000 in fines for Ethic code violations was only a donation.
    6. I never said we should profile everyone. onle ones that don't agree with me
    7. Yes I believe we should go to war. It will stimulate our economy
    8. Now I think we should not give amnesty to illegles

    December 9, 2011 06:59 pm at 6:59 pm |
  3. Vet4RonPaul

    Gingrich is truly a war-monger. He'll attack Iran on day one and we and our children will pay with our blood and money. It is unjust and immoral because they are not a threat to our great country. Gingrich, and Romney, never in a million years would put on a military uniform and serve America; but they are the first to send other parent's children to die. Disgusting.

    December 9, 2011 07:12 pm at 7:12 pm |
  4. George

    Romney is 10 x the candidate and 10 x the leader.

    December 9, 2011 07:28 pm at 7:28 pm |
  5. RINO Bil

    They want to run the country but are afraid to get their hands dirty? Sounds like two wusses to me.

    December 9, 2011 07:29 pm at 7:29 pm |
  6. Jamie from Riverside

    Will there be a swimsuit competion at Sunday's debate?
    which one of these guys would you rather see in a pair of Speedos?

    December 9, 2011 07:58 pm at 7:58 pm |
  7. Namejkane

    Two of the bigest losers in the republican party, and unelectable in the general election. Every normal person knows that dip romney and the lobbyist grinchrich are both teapublican clowns

    December 9, 2011 08:06 pm at 8:06 pm |
  8. Deep in the Heart of Texas

    Which candidate is channeling the Oracle of Orange, the Weeper of the House?

    December 9, 2011 09:01 pm at 9:01 pm |
  9. GOP = Greed Over People

    It would appear newt needs to step away from the spray tanning booth.

    (If it is any consolation, the visual of that rotund mound of fish belly white sagging flesh, dressed only in goggles and a Speedo, or God forbid a thong, is now seared into MY retina as well)!

    December 9, 2011 09:12 pm at 9:12 pm |
  10. Howard

    CNN and the liberal democrats are scared to death that Newt might run against obama. Even the biased media, and a BILLION dollars would not keep obama from looking like a complete fool, once Newt got done with him. Obama, the liberal's sacred cow, has spewed way too much B.S. ... and, the American people are beginning to wake up to how much B.O. stinks !!!

    December 9, 2011 09:13 pm at 9:13 pm |
  11. Thomas

    They sound more and more like Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck !

    It's Rabbit season , No It's Duck Season , No Rabbit Season , No Duck Season

    Rick Perry : Elmer Fudd ?

    December 9, 2011 09:36 pm at 9:36 pm |