Time for Mitt Romney to attack Newt Gingrich?

The mild-mannered moderate's backers urge him to get more aggressive to drag the surging Gingrich back to Earth

Mitt Romney
(Image credit: Scott Olson/Getty Images)

With the Jan. 3 Iowa caucuses fast approaching, and Newt Gingrich increasing his lead in polls, some of Mitt Romney's supporters are urging him to ditch his "mild-mannered" style and go into attack mode. They say the former Massachusetts governor needs to trip up Gingrich and show he can handle what promises to be a tough fight against President Obama. While Romney is vowing to get more aggressive, if not go into full-on battle, some political junkies say the former businessman should stay focused on the economy and avoid tarnishing his hard-earned reputation. What is Romney's best strategy?

Attacking Gingrich is a waste of time: Gingrich is not Romney's main problem, says Chris Stirewalt at Fox News. Mitt's real challenge is winning over "the three quarters of Republican voters who don't believe (he) is one of them." Romney doesn't have much time left to make the sale, and he'll never succeed if he focuses his energies and resources on "ending the current Newtness."

"Romney misdiagnoses his problem"

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Well, Mitt has to try something new: Romney's current approach simply isn't working, says John Berman at ABC News. He needs a "shift in tactics." Mitt won't sully himself with personal attacks on Gingrich's integrity — he'll let surrogates do that. But he should follow through on his vow to make the contrast between him and Gingrich "loud and clear," while highlighting the importance of temperament, a Gingrich weakness. If Mitt's lucky, Newt will respond by digging "a hole for himself."

"Romney team shifts tactics"

And Romney's latest ad is quite clever: Direct attacks often "hurt both the candidates making them and their intended targets," says Jim Rutenberg in The New York Times. But Romney's new ad might just thread the needle. The clip focuses on Mitt's 42-year marriage — an "implicit dig" at the thrice-married Gingrich. By hitting his rival with "an attack advertisement in the guise of a purely positive commercial," Romney may avoid the consequences of going negative.

"Romney ad highlights stable family"

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