Gingrich Needs to Decide Whether to Go Negative

Wednesday, 02 Nov 2011 11:50 AM

By Dan Weil

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Republican presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich’s poll numbers have risen in recent weeks by focusing on issues and refraining from attacks against his rivals. Now the former House speaker needs to decide how he takes his campaign to the next level, according to The Hill newspaper.
A Fox News survey last month showed Gingrich in third place with 12 percent support, trailing only Herman Cain, who had 24 percent, and Mitt Romney, with 20 percent. In August, Gingrich had only 3 percent support.
Gingrich engineered the climb by directing his criticism solely at President Barack Obama and his fellow Democrats: He called for imprisonment of Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., and former Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Conn., for the financial reform law that bears their names.
But when it comes to his Republican opponents, Gingrich has adopted a much friendlier tone, complimenting nearly all of them at one time or another. He hasn’t posted any ads on the Internet going after fellow contestants, unlike Romney and his main rival Rick Perry.
Gingrich defended Perry’s controversial book that blasted the structure of Social Security, while Romney was taking digs at it.
Gingrich has even stood up for Romney when discussions turned to the former Massachusetts governor’s healthcare plan for that state. While other presidential candidates were lambasting Romneycare for its resemblance to Obama’s healthcare law, Gingrich said Romney’s original proposal was hijacked by liberal Democrats in the state legislature.
Already Gingrich has gone negative in subtle ways:
At a campaign event in South Carolina last weekend, Gingrich took on Cain a bit, saying they come from “two different worlds” and that his own “deep understanding of America” makes him a better candidate.
“The biggest difference, I think, is pretty straightforward,” Gingrich said. “Trying to fundamentally change America is really hard. Talking about it is really easy.”
And Gingrich took a jab at Romney for his close ties to Wall Street in an interview on Fox News Monday.
“I’m not going to raise the kind of money that Mitt Romney can raise,” Gingrich said. “I mean, he raised, I think, about $5 million on Wall Street alone.”

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