After getting pummeled by negative ads from rivals Ron Paul and Mitt Romney for days–which led to his disappointing fourth place finish in the Iowa caucus last night, Newt Gingrich took to the stage in downtown Des Moines last night and punch right back.
“Together we survived the biggest onslaught in the history of the Iowa primary,” the former House Speaker told an audience of about 100 supporters.
He said the choice was between “whether this party wants a Reagan conservative who helped change Washington in the 1980s with Ronald Reagan and helped change Washington in the 1990s as speaker of the House” or “we want a Massachusetts moderate who, in fact, will be pretty good at managing the decay but has given no evidence in his years in Massachusetts of any act to change the culture or change the political structure or change the government.”
And then this morning, Mr. Gingrich unveiled a full-page ad in the New Hampshire Leader, asking Republican leaders whether they want a “Timid Massachusetts Moderate” or a “Bold Reagan Conservative.”
Perhaps Mr. Gingrich is like the Hulk, and we won’t like to see him when he is angry. Or, perhaps, these are the flailing motions of someone with money to burn (thanks to a late, albeit brief surge in the polls) and ready to play the campaign to the end. Mr. Gingrich vowed to stay positive; that vow appears to be broken. But the former House Speaker wasn’t playing nice necessarily out of any love for his rivals, or to keep them fresh for a battle against President Obama (as he claimed.) There is so much dirt on Mr. Gingrich–his marriages, his lobbying, his wildly divergent policy ideas, his disastrous tenure as speaker–that calling for a cease fire was the best chance he had of not getting hit by incoming flack.
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