Popularity has its price and Newt Gingrich is finding it’s a heavy one as he faces a slew of attacks now he is leading the polls for the Republican presidential race.
Rival Ron Paul led the way with a vicious ad against the former House Speaker, accusing him of hypocrisy and raking in huge profits from groups he is now attacking as the primary season gets closer.
The Texas congressman’s ad – entitled “Newt Gingrich: Serial Hypocrisy” – used clips of Gingrich speaking and pundits ranging from MSNBC’s Ed Schultz on the left to Rush Limbaugh on the right attacking him for taking $1.6 million from Freddie Mac and $37 million from healthcare companies.
Images in the black-and-white ad include the cozy couch session with former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi when they joined forces to counter global warming as well as liberal use of pictures of houses in foreclosure. Headlines such as “Can new Newt keep old Newt at bay” and “Gingrich profited from one of the great scandals of our time,” flash on the screen.
Paul’s attack came a day after Mitt Romney, Gingrich’s main competitor for the nomination, slammed him for being a “lifelong politician” and shortly before fellow-candidate Michele Bachmann accused him of “influence peddling” in an exclusive interview with Newsmax.TV.
“He has an organization that’s taken in well over $100 million to have influence on behalf of special interests in Washington, D.C,” Bachmann said. “Isn’t that exactly what we’re trying to get away from: crony capitalism? That’s what I’ve been fighting when I’ve been in Washington. And that’s the real juxtaposition.”
Bachmann had earlier called Gingrich “the most liberal GOP candidate on the issue of immigration reform.”
Romney’s camp is gearing up for a full-blown assault, according to CNN, and has already started issuing thinly veiled references to the twice-divorced Gingrich’s messy personal history. Without naming his rival, Romney’s camp sent round a flier in Iowa saying, “Mitt Romney lives his values. He has been married to Ann for 42 years with five sons and daughters-in-law and 16 grandchildren.”
A national Rasmussen Reports poll on Friday put Gingrich 21 points ahead of Romney, but the former Massachusetts governor clearly believes Gingrich’s campaign could implode, just as Rick Perry’s and Herman Cain’s have. "When Newt is doing well is when he gets into trouble," a Romney advisor told the Los Angeles Times’ Doyle McManus, adding, "He's smarter than he used to be. We're about to find out how much smarter."
But the Georgian is confident. “I am going to be the nominee,” he brazenly told ABC News’ Jake Tapper on Thursday. “And by the way, I don’t object if people want to attack me, that’s their right. All I’m suggesting is that it’s not going to be very effective and that people are going to get sick of it very fast.”
Gingrich also had the answers when he appeared in South Carolina after Romney’s attack. Rather than being a lifetime politician, he dubbed himself “a lifetime citizen” as he stressed that he has been a college professor and small-business owner as well as the ultimate Washington insider.
“I’m very proud that I’ve actually tried to understand what it takes to make America successful,” Gingrich said during a campaign stop in Greenville.
“I’m going to stay focused on the president,” Gingrich added. “The audiences I’m talking to seem to like somebody who’s both positive about solutions and focused on the president.”
But he was forced on the defensive when he was asked whether he could keep government running. During his time as Speaker he received most of the flak when the government was forced to shut down twice during budget battles with then president Bill Clinton.
“Clinton and I understood how to fight in a way that was mature,” he claimed. “It confused the Washington press corps, but it didn’t confuse the country”
And he called Bachmann “factually challenged” for her claim that his proposal to allow aliens who have been in the country for quarter of a century to stay was “an amnesty.”
“The voters will be pretty good over time in distinguishing between the people who know facts and people who don’t know facts,” he said.
While the attacks keep coming from within his own party, President Barack Obama has largely ignored Gingrich while focusing his attention on Romney, showing that Democrats still believe the former Massachusetts governor will win the nomination.
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