January 22nd, 2012
07:35 PM ET
8 years ago

Romney takes aim at Gingrich in Florida

Ormond Beach, Florida (CNN) - The day after Newt Gingrich’s rout in South Carolina, Mitt Romney wasted no time in lighting into his newly emboldened competitor.

At a rally in Ormond Beach, Florida, Romney took direct aim at the former House speaker as he sought to wrest back his momentum in the GOP presidential race, offering the audience a history of what he called Gingrich’s “failed leadership” as speaker of the House.

“At the end of four years it was proven that he was a failed leader. And he had to resign in disgrace,” Romney said as the sun set over the outdoor rally at a building materials company. “I don’t know whether you knew that. He actually resigned after four years in disgrace.”

Romney tied the former speaker to President Obama, painting Gingrich as a Washington insider and saying a true outsider was the only hope for winning back the White House.

“He talks about great, bold movements and ideas,” Romney said. “Well, what’s he been doing for 15 years? He’s been working as a lobbyist, yeah. He’s been working as a lobbyist and selling influence around Washington.”

Hours after an abrupt turnaround on releasing his tax returns – Romney said Sunday morning that he would put out his 2010 tax information on Tuesday – the GOP candidate called on Gingrich to release records of his time spent working with troubled mortgage giant Freddie Mac.

“What was he doing at Freddie Mac?” Romney asked. “Because Freddie Mac figures in very prominently into the fact that people in Florida have seen home values go down – it’s time to turn that around!”

Gingrich has said most of the six-figure sum he received from Freddie Mac went to pay for overhead and staff at his firm.

The former Massachusetts governor also made reference to Gingrich’s troubled marital history and emphasized the importance of character in the Republican race for the White House.

“We’re not choosing a talk show host, all right? We’re choosing a leader. We’re choosing the person who should be the leader of the free world,” Romney said, in a veiled reference to Gingrich’s colorful – and frequently applauded – speaking style at a series of presidential primary debates.

Romney added: “I believe leaders have integrity. I believe they are people of sobriety, judgment, thoughtfulness, reliability, high ethical standards, all the elements of leadership.”

The Romney campaign hoped the shift to Florida would provide an opportunity for rebound after a difficult week in which Romney learned he had lost Iowa’s caucuses, struggled over repeated questions about his taxes and was dealt a stunning loss in South Carolina.

Romney has a healthy financial advantage in Florida and boasts a significant political organization.

“It’s good to be back in Florida,” he told the audience Sunday. “I need your help.”

Romney was aided in his efforts by the two women who introduced him - Florida’s Attorney General Pam Bondi and Romney’s wife, Ann – who vouched for the former governor’s character.

Bondi took a none-too-subtle swipe at Gingrich’s ego.

“Let me tell you, this man is not arrogant,” Bondi said of Romney, adding of his family: “They are good people, of the highest integrity, of the highest morals, and they are a good, strong family.”

Meanwhile, Ann Romney spoke about Romney’s large and, by all accounts tight-knit, family.

“I understand Mitt’s going to release his tax forms this week,” she said. “I want to remind you where we know our riches are. Our riches are with our families.”

Filed under: 2012 • Florida • Mitt Romney
soundoff (76 Responses)
  1. kat

    Please stop fighting, we MUST stick together if our country is to have any chance of surviving. We MUST get BHO out of office.

    January 22, 2012 07:42 pm at 7:42 pm |
  2. MikeH

    Mitt got his riches by destroying other peoples lives. He is scum. His sons are cowards who won't even serve their country.

    January 22, 2012 07:47 pm at 7:47 pm |
  3. Carlyle Rogers

    This is rich.....Mitt, who did not seek re-election in Mass. because he had a 34 percent approval rating and feared a re-election battle because he wanted to run for President, calling Newt a failed leader. This, from a man who failed to become a career politician back in 1994 and described himself an independent during the Reagan years, a Tsongas voter in 1992, and a progressive in 2002 when he was running for Governor. You really have to give Mitt credit...he will say and do anything to get elected.

    January 22, 2012 07:48 pm at 7:48 pm |
  4. damn texan

    all the GOP contenders seem to enjoy calling President Obama the food stamp president.Well to some extent they are right,you see as a chid him and his mom was actually on food stamps and welfare.None of the current contenders have ever known what it was like being poor.They have been groomed in the lap of luxury.Never having to sweat out a check clearing the bank before you can get their and make a deposit. because your life is not on that short of string. YOU NEVER KNOW WHAT ITS LIKE TO BE ANOTHER PERSON TILL YOU WALK A MILE IN HIS SHOES

    January 22, 2012 07:48 pm at 7:48 pm |
  5. FedUp

    So what? His super pacs already did that and all it did was to serve to make everyone angry. Maybe a little humility might help too. Of course, he is "entitled."

    January 22, 2012 07:55 pm at 7:55 pm |
  6. Larry L

    This is wrong! Doesn't Mitt know that Newt found Jesus and was granted a pardon for a lifetime of despicable behavior and dishonesty? Newt would lie. Well maybe he'd lie to a woman. Maybe he'd lie to the US Congress. Okay... maybe he really was a lobbyist but surely those were the only lies – with him being in tight with Jesus and all...

    January 22, 2012 08:10 pm at 8:10 pm |
  7. A Texan

    Republicans know the sluggish economy, jobs, etc is in and will be in the crapper for several years. I tells a lot when their goal is to beat Obama, not rebuild the middle class. ---- Preservation of their tax bracket and loopholes is their ONLY real concern.

    January 22, 2012 08:14 pm at 8:14 pm |
  8. Vernon

    Convince me Mr Romney. Problem is we always hear the talk but never any talk on how your going to do it. Obama talked about change chage and the people jumped on it. With nothing on how he would do it We are now finding out about the change he was talking about. More debt..more govt..more people out of work...more people on food stamps...more more more. Tell how you would get us out of debt! Tell us how your going to create more jobs! Tell us how to get govt out of the way! Tell us how you will clean up Washington! Then you will get my vote then you will get my money then you will get my voice to speak on your behalf.

    January 22, 2012 08:19 pm at 8:19 pm |
  9. Indy

    Romney added: “I believe leaders have integrity. I believe they are people of sobriety, judgment, thoughtfulness, reliability, high ethical standards, all the elements of leadership.”

    So Romney just described Obama here, and if Romney had these qualities he would release his taxes for the past 12 years just like his father did or at least his time at Bain. I would like to hear describe the qualities ao a vulture capitalist and see how close they are to his idea of a leader.Romney continues to campaign on past relections instead of a future direction.

    January 22, 2012 08:20 pm at 8:20 pm |
  10. packerfans

    Floridia Voter for Mitt Romney!! Go GO Mitt!!

    January 22, 2012 08:29 pm at 8:29 pm |
  11. DENNA

    Mitt Romney is a better choice than Newt. I am a liberal, but I think that President Obama has more to fear from Mittens than Newt. While South Carolina lives in the racist, make-believe world of superiority, the rest of America has been living in the here and now and have no wish to go back to the dark ages of the Southern Strategy where the south holds the rest of America hostage.

    January 22, 2012 08:34 pm at 8:34 pm |
  12. john doe

    romney got faced at the event by a group of occupy protesters - romney essentially gave the same limp stump speech that he gives ten times a day. the crowd reception for romney was tepid at best. but the highlight was when half way through his shtick about 20 occupy protesters "mic checked" mr. romney with the following:

    "mic check (romney stopped speaking at this point)

    Mr. One Percent, corporations are not people. We are the people. We are Americans. We are the 99%."

    At this point, the occupy people began chanting "U.S.A., U.S.A., U.S.A...." as they calmly walked through the crowd.

    Romney's response was to try and dismiss the protesters as unamerican and he repeated his pull the string response that he practiced on another occupier in south carolina last week - some lame gibberish about north korea, cuba, and the soviet union. how 70's of you mr. one percent. america - luv it or leave it, eh. romney so luvs america he gots all his cash parked in the caymans. lmao.

    I would be happy to send you and your editors the live stream that was taken by several of our members or you could simply ask the CNN videographer for a copy of his tape. maybe next time you should stop playing "angry birds" on your i-phone and actually report what happened.

    January 22, 2012 08:39 pm at 8:39 pm |
  13. Josaphat Daniels

    When romney won new hampshire and thought he won iowa his campaign team labeled newt as angry, well look who's angry now.

    January 22, 2012 08:42 pm at 8:42 pm |
  14. ?????

    Are they just running so they can write off the bus?

    January 22, 2012 08:43 pm at 8:43 pm |
  15. Tom

    Well done, Mitt. Glad you're finally taking the gloves off. They say Newt is a political knife-fighter. Show him what it means to bring a gun to a knife fight.

    January 22, 2012 08:45 pm at 8:45 pm |
  16. Josaphat Daniels

    This guy is such a fake the way he is attacking gingrich is the same way he has been attacking Obama accusing both of them of failed leadership and this moron has no core leadership of his own. The people of SC saw through his facade and
    knew that he lacked backbone even with all the endorsement he got from the state including the governor and demint, he still couldn't pull it off. This guy will never be president even if he gets the nomination.

    January 22, 2012 08:50 pm at 8:50 pm |
  17. edog

    If Romney is so pro American and wants to keep taxes low for the "Job Creators" (top 1% of the rich) why does he have some money offshore??? Why not keep all his money in the US!! Dirty little secret of the RICH. Their money does not all stay in America. Offshore homes, offshore accounts, offshore vacations, offshore foreign cars, offshore shopping sprees to Europe!!! Time for the working class and middle class to wake up and stop believing that you have to keep the taxes low for the so call "job creators". Ask Romney how many American jobs does his offshore money create!!!

    January 22, 2012 09:03 pm at 9:03 pm |
  18. Stephanie

    What has Mitt done in the past four years since his last unsuccessful bid for President, except collect millions? Has he showed any evidence of leadership? Has he offered to meet with Obama or members of his administration in a Bi-Partisan effort to solve our nations's problems? How does he propose to help the middle class, our nation's true "riches"? Romney never mentions the middle class and awkwardly tried to identify with their struggles by joking that he is unemployed, and "doesnt make much" from speaking fees ($347K). Romney should return to his successful private sector life where he continue to tout his success.

    January 22, 2012 09:20 pm at 9:20 pm |
  19. Todd

    Romney has a history of good decision making. America needs a calm thinking, successful person to be our leader.

    January 22, 2012 09:41 pm at 9:41 pm |
  20. Frederick

    It amazes me that evangelicals in South Carolina would cheer on Gingrich when he only gave 2.6% of his income to charity. As a Christian, you'd think Gingrich would be humiliated to release his taxes. I wonder how his Tiffany's tab stacks up to his church giving. For all Newt's talk about a change of heart where faith is concerned, his checkbook seems strangely unconverted. Now that Romney's taxes are out, I sure hope he's unapologetic for them. I'd rather elect a Mormon who tithes than a Newt-come-lately who doesn't even come close.

    January 22, 2012 10:12 pm at 10:12 pm |
  21. hollaye

    Romney is the best, most experience, if your goal is to beat Obama, vote for Romney.

    January 22, 2012 10:45 pm at 10:45 pm |
  22. Dana

    You did not cover the part where Mitt Romney told Occupy Daytona protestors to "take a hike." At one point during his outdoor rally at a building supply company, Romney was interrupted by protesters chanting “We are the people.” He quickly dismissed them. “No, actually, these are the people,” Romney shouted back. “These are the people; you’re the interrupters. We believe in the Constitution. We believe in the right to speech. And you believe in interrupting. Take a hike.”Though it was unclear to most of the crowd who the protesters were representing, Romney suggested they were attacking “free enterprise.” “I love these guys, by the way, who don’t like America and our free-enterprise system, and they have something else in mind,” he said. “Take a look at Cuba; take a look at North Korea; take a look at the former Soviet Union. Our system works. What they’re fighting for does not work. I believe in America.”

    January 22, 2012 10:54 pm at 10:54 pm |
  23. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    Okay, the question is what will Gingrich do with Romney's tax returns... I think that there is something, but I don't know what is sure. One thing is for sure is that this will show that Romney isn't in touch with the middle class.

    January 22, 2012 10:55 pm at 10:55 pm |
  24. The Unsub

    this is great!....pass the popcorn!

    January 22, 2012 11:06 pm at 11:06 pm |
  25. Dana

    Why does CNN not mention that a group of protestors were told by Mitt Romney to "take a hike" and they were accused of not being American basically. He seems to think Corporations are people? And anyone who opposes that view should go to Cuba or North Korea? Wow.

    January 22, 2012 11:08 pm at 11:08 pm |
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