Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign and President Barack Obama’s camp are focused squarely on each other, leaving out Romney’s Republican challenger Newt Gingrich, despite his rise to the top of recent polls, Politico and The Hill report.
Former Massachusetts Gov. Romney already has put out a controversial ad attacking Obama, which drew heated responses from Democrats. And the Democratic National Committee (DNC) has launched a broadside of its own against Romney, with television ads, news releases, conference calls, and even a Twitter message from Obama’s personal account.
“If people are scared of uncertainty, they should be terrified of Mitt Romney,” DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, a Florida congresswoman, said during a conference call with reporters.
But Romney isn’t taking the heat lying down. Allies such as former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty; Rep. Patrick McHenry, R-N.C.; and former Iowa GOP Chairman Brian Kennedy have spoken out in his defense.
“It’s obvious that Barack Obama doesn’t want to face Mitt Romney,” Pawlenty said. “They know he would defeat Barack Obama, and he should, on the merits.”
Meanwhile, Gingrich isn’t in the former Minnesota governor’s sights. Pawlenty scoffed at the New Hampshire Union Leader’s endorsement of the former House speaker, saying, “Every candidate is going to get their fair share of endorsements.”
The Romney campaign is treating Gingrich with kid gloves. That’s the same way it handled the now sagging threats from Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann and retired businessman Herman Cain. The idea is to wait for the opponents to prove themselves as a legitimate threat before wasting resources attacking them.
The only challenger Romney went after was Texas Gov. Rick Perry, when his now-faded star was rising.
Democrats too have ignored the boom-and-bust candidates and are treating Gingrich the same way. Iowa Democratic Party Chairwoman Sue Dvorsky said during an anti-Romney news conference on Monday that Gingrich isn’t “the first Republican candidate who has risen to the top. I don’t know how long that’s going to last.”
Some Democrats hope Gingrich does win, arguing that he would make an easier opponent for Obama than Romney. The former Massachusetts governor has fared best among the Republican candidates in one-on-one polls against the president.
Massachusetts Rep. Barney Frank is one Democrat who favors a Gingrich victory. “He would be the best thing that happened to the Democratic Party since Barry Goldwater,” the arch liberal said at his retirement news conference Monday.
But a Republican media strategist says that both the Romney and Obama campaigns may be ignoring Gingrich at their peril.
“All this is happening while Newt gets to bask in the endorsement of the Union Leader, in that state that’s supposed to be Romney’s firewall,” the strategist told Politico. “Newt’s not going after the president, because he doesn’t need a gimmick at the moment for attention. He’s got it, because he’s surging.”
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