Still smarting from his "stunning" loss in the GOP's South Carolina presidential primary, Mitt Romney is doubling down on negative attacks against archrival Newt Gingrich. At a Florida news conference, Romney called Gingrich a "failed leader" who had to "resign in disgrace" as speaker of the House in the late '90s. Romney also accused Gingrich of being a "lobbyist and selling influence around Washington," and released a TV ad that attacks Gingrich's past ties to Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae. "While Florida families lost everything in the housing crisis," the ad says, "Newt Gingrich cashed in. Gingrich was paid over $1.6 million by the scandal-ridden agency that helped create the crisis." Of course, with Romney on the ropes, it makes sense that his gloves are finally coming off. But could lashing out at Newt backfire on Romney?
Going negative won't work: This new strategy could easily fail, says Doug Mataconis at Outside the Beltway. Gingrich excelled in South Carolina despite his ex-wife's claims that Newt wanted an "open marriage." Clearly, "Republican voters have already discounted Gingrich's past and continue to view the candidate with rose colored glasses." Besides, Romney isn't a good attack dog. His attempts to go negative on John McCain and Mike Huckabee failed in 2008. I don't expect him to have much success this time around either.
"Romney, and surrogates, go negative on Gingrich"
This could even help Gingrich: Not only will Romney's offensive fail, says Ana Marie Cox at the U.K.'s Guardian, but it could actually help Newt. Romney is attacking Gingrich's "character," but "GOP voters want a character." Saying that the former speaker isn't trusted by the party's leaders is music to Tea Party voters' ears: They "don't trust Republican leaders, either." The more Romney paints Gingrich as a candidate that shouldn't be embraced by the GOP, the more support the disillusioned base is likely to give him. "Romney can continue to go after Gingrich on the flaws that make him a dangerous nominee, but the GOP primary voters seem to like playing with fire."
"Mitt Romney's attacks only help Newt Gingrich"
C'mon. This is clearly a smart move: Attacking Gingrich's involvement with Freddie Mac "hits on a key vulnerability Gingrich [has] among Republicans nationally," says Phillip Rucker at The Washington Post. Over half of voters still express an unfavorable view of his "work as a consultant for companies with interests in federal policymaking." Romney is scrambling to regain ground in Florida, a state that was hit hard by the housing crisis. Of course he's wise to blast Gingrich on Freddie Mac — which many Americans blame for the crisis.
"Mitt Romney expands attack on Newt Gingrich, slamming work for health-care firms"
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- Why all drugs should be legal. (Yes, even heroin.)
- Here's the schedule very successful people follow every day
- What would a U.S.-Russia war look like?
- How to trim $500 from your monthly spending
- Comic-Con 2014: Everything we learned about Avengers 2, Batman v. Superman, and more
- 7 ideas from ancient thinkers that will improve your modern life
- The big, gaping hole in the liberal policy arsenal
- Are there too many good shows on television?
- Why you should really take a nap this afternoon, according to science
- The weird obsession that's ruining the GOP
Subscribe to the Week