Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich says his strategy is to “draw a direct and sharp contrast” with Mitt Romney in New Hampshire and beyond, and stand by his pledge not to launch negative campaign ads. The presidential hopeful also told Fox News’ Greta Van Susteren Wednesday the choice between the former Massachusetts governor and “a Reagan conservative” is clear cut, and although Romney holds a significant lead in the Granite State, Gingrich’s chances are not “doomed.”
“The most we’re going to do is draw a direct and sharp contrast with Governor Romney — who is a Massachusetts moderate — and contrast my fighting against tax increases and his tax increases,” Gingrich said. “Or contrast my very bold plan for jobs and economic growth — which The Wall Street Journal Saturday said was the best and most aggressive job-producing plan — with what they characterize as a plan . . . by Romney so timid that it resembles [President Barack] Obama.
“But I’m not going to go into attack commercials and the kind of the negative baloney that some of these guys do. I think we ought to talk about issues — about policy — and make clear how big the choice is between a Reagan conservative who’s actually achieved things in Washington and a Massachusetts moderate,” he said.
Van Susteren suggested to Gingrich if he insists in taking the high road in New Hampshire — which holds the first primary in the nation Jan. 10, and where Romney commands a significant lead — “you’re doomed.” Gingrich begged to differ.
“Oh, I don’t think so — I think the difference between my record as a Reagan conservative who helped to create jobs in the 1980s, helped to create jobs in the 1990s, helped pass the '81 tax cut, helped pass . . . the 1996 tax cut — look at my record — it’s very consistent,” he said. “As governor, he raised taxes — now, that’s a pretty big gap. And I think you can have a discussion that’s much more pointed than it was in Iowa, but that nonetheless is a discussion of comparisons.
“It’s a discussion of records — it’s a discussion of facts. And that's very different than the negative,” Gingrich continued. “Remember: One of his ads got four ‘Pinocchios’ from The Washington Post. I mean, that's fairly amazing to get four ‘Pinocchios’ for an ad that was that dishonest.”
Gingrich told Van Susteren the difference between his strategy in Iowa and New Hampshire — and future primary states — is that while he strictly went positive in the past, he now will begin to stress the contrasts between himself and the other candidates.
“I think the American people, given a clear choice — we didn’t try to give them a clear choice in Iowa, we tried to give them a very positive choice about me — and we ran very positive ads; we stayed very much on the positive side,” Gingrich said. “I said at the time it was an experiment — it did well enough that I came in above both Congresswoman [Michele] Bachmann and Governor [Rick] Perry. And I think considering the weight of ads — 45 percent of all the ads in Iowa were aimed at me, were negative ads about me. So I think in some ways, it was a remarkable achievement — and the people of Iowa deserve to be commended for looking beyond it.
“But all I’m suggesting to you is a clear-cut choice in New Hampshire, South Carolina, Florida between a Massachusetts moderate who raises taxes, who puts tax-paid abortions in Romneycare, who puts Planned Parenthood in Romneycare, who puts liberal judges on the bench,” he said. “You take the list, you compare it to a Reagan conservative who is opposed to tax increases and helps pass tax cuts, who is for conservative judges and who is right to life — I think in Republican primaries, that clear, direct, principled contrast can be very, very effective.”
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