On the day of the Iowa caucuses, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich changed course away from his largely positive campaign, launching an attack on former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. In an interview on CBS’s “The Early Show” with Norah O’Donnell and Bob Schieffer, Gingrich called his opponent a liar and said his nomination would jeopardize the GOP’s 2012 election chances..
O’DONNELL: I have to ask you — are you calling Mitt Romney a liar?
O’DONNELL: You’re calling Mitt Romney a liar?
GINGRICH: Well, you seem shocked by it. Yes. What else can you say?
O’DONNELL: Why is he a liar?
Gingrich explained that Romney wasn’t being forthright about the true forces behind a political action committee working to get him elected, and added Romney wasn’t telling the truth about his record as Massachusetts governor.
“This is a man whose staff created the PAC and his millionaire friends fund the PAC,” Gingrich said. “He pretends he has nothing to do with the PAC. It’s baloney. He’s not telling the American people the truth. It’s just like his pretense that he’s a conservative. Here’s a Massachusetts moderate who has tax-paid abortions in ‘RomneyCare,’ puts Planned Parenthood in ‘RomneyCare,’ raises hundreds of millions of dollars of taxes on businesses, appoints liberal judges and wants the rest of us to believe he’s somehow magically a conservative.”
Gingrich has seen a recent drop in the polls after enjoying a brief period as the Republican front-runner. Gingrich was hit with millions of dollars in attack ads while he was atop the polls.
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The former speaker said he also didn’t like Romney’s chances of beating President Barack Obama and warned that nominating Romney left the Republican Party’s election chances vulnerable.
“I just think he ought to be honest with the American people and try to win as the real Mitt Romney,” Gingrich continued. “Not try to invent a poll-driven consultant-guided version that goes around with talking points. I think he ought to be candidate. I don’t think he’s being candid and that will be a major issue, from here on out for the rest of this campaign. The country has to decide – do you really want a Massachusetts moderate who won’t level with you to run against Barack Obama, who frankly will just tear him apart? He will not survive against the Obama machine.”
Despite being very critical of Romney, Gingrich said he would support him should he be the eventual nominee.
Romney “would be much less destructive than Barack Obama,” Gingrich said. “If you think Barack Obama is someone who is not a risk to the country’s future, then that’s somebody to vote for.”
It appeared as though Gingrich had given up on Iowa on Monday after he said he didn’t “expect to win.” But, late on Monday in Davenport, Iowa, Gingrich ramped up his efforts again, asking supporters to help him achieve “one of the great upsets in the history of the Iowa caucuses.”
During his Tuesday morning CBS appearance, though, Gingrich was cautious. “I don’t think anybody knows who’s going to get what right now,” Gingrich said. “I think anybody can come in first.”
Matthew Boyle contributed to this report