DES MOINES, Iowa — Mitt Romney is aggressively attacking rival Newt Gingrich as the former House speaker rises in the polls.
Romney's campaign on Thursday was set to point out a series of issues in Gingrich's record on a conference call with Republican former Sen. Jim Talent of Missouri and former New Hampshire Gov. John H. Sununu. In a release, the Romney campaign attacked remarks Gingrich made criticizing Wisconsin Republican Rep. Paul Ryan's plan for the federal budget.
Gingrich once referred to Ryan's plan, popular among many fiscal conservatives, as "right-wing social engineering."
It's a significant shift in strategy. Romney's campaign has not previously criticized Gingrich head-on. The moves show that with Iowa's caucuses drawing near, Romney views Gingrich as a significant threat to his chances of winning the Republican nomination.
Romney also has come out swinging with a new ad casting himself as a devout, family man — casting his rival as a man who has admitted to extra-marital affairs and is a religious convert.
"I'm a man of steadiness and constancy," Romney says in the TV spot as grainy home videos of his wife and five sons flashes on the screen.
"I don't think you're going to find somebody who has more of those attributes than I do," the former Massachusetts governor added.
See the video below.
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