Let’s say you’re a candidate for your party’s presidential nomination. You were once the leader of the entire pack of hopefuls, despite maintaining only 25% of the vote in your own party. Now, from seemingly out of nowhere, a former Speaker of the House – who is a historian no less – has suged ahead of you by almost double your percentage of the votes.
This is positively blowing your mind. You are a second generation governor, fergoshsakes, and a bona fide financial genius (just ask you). By golly, this nomination is owed you by your party’s Elite. It’s your legacy!
What to do?
Evidently, if you’re Willard “Mitt” Romney, you and your minions take a page out of President Barack Hussein Obama’s Playbook of Chicago Politics and resort to a blistering, low-road, ad hominem attack.
Mitt Romney today [Saturday] said he believes that Newt Gingrich, with “no question in my mind,” would be the easier candidate for President Obama to beat in the general election, hinting that he and the former House speaker would bump heads at Saturday night’s debate to define their differences.
In an exclusive sit-down interview with ABC News anchor David Muir this afternoon in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Romney shied away from attacking Gingrich outright but suggested that a more pointed exchange between him and Gingrich will happen as soon as the next debate.
“Well, we’ll be talking about issues, of course, and we have differing views on some issues and we’ll be talking about those differences,” he said. “That’s, after all, the nature of a debate.”
Pressed on whether he’d be willing to mix it up with Gingrich on stage, Romney didn’t explicitly rule it out.
“I’d expect Newt Gingrich and I will have some differences and we’ll be able to discuss those as well,” Romney said.
After 24 hours of scathing attacks directed at Gingrich from Romney surrogates, with several people associated with the campaign using words such as “untrustworthy” and “unreliable” to describe Gingrich, Romney was asked whether he, too, believes Gingrich is untrustworthy.
“Well [there are] a lot of people that worked with Speaker Gingrich in the past and they’re going to say whatever they will,” Romney said. “Heaven knows I can’t write a script for all the people that support me.”
Questioned specifically about the television ad, “Leader,” which touts Romney’s family values, the candidate told ABC News that the ad was not intended to be a veiled swipe at Gingrich.
“Actually, in each of my campaigns, I’ve begun advertising season with an ad about me and my family and my values,” he said.
“There was no attempt to in any way to implicate anybody else in that,” he said. “I’m just trying to let people know who I am.”
As for whether Gingrich’s personal life – specifically his three marriages – should be considered a liability, Romney said he would “not give advice to the American people as to what they should look when they decide who should be their nominee or their president.”
“I’m not going to tell them which things they’re allowed to consider,” Romney said, ”and which things they’re not.”
Meanwhile, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich – the object of this assault – took the high road:
Newt Gingrich vowed this afternoon [Saturday] to stay “relentlessly positive” as Fight Night looms in Iowa, as he talked to the roughly 200 people crammed into his recently-opened Urbandale headquarters for a kick-off event.
But Gingrich also drew a distinction between “attack ads” that are distortive of records, and contrasts about differences, which he said are different, and acceptable.
“We should focus on solutions,” Gingrich said, adding that the discussion has to be “positive” or the nominee will never be strong enough to take on President Obama.
“We have a very, very good chance to do very well on Jan. 3. we will only do well if each of you helps us,” he said, drifting into a bit of process saying: “Historically over a third of the people who go to caucus are not quite sure when they walk in the door.”
“My campaign will be relentlessly positive,” he said. “There’s not a problem (when people) compare records…there’s a big difference…between negative attack ads that are destructive, and legitimate comparisons.”
“We’re not going to be tearing people down,” Gingrich said, adding he would “attack” any super PAC supporting him that runs ads slamming another candidate, a day after the pro-Mitt Romney super PAC started airing attack ads agains the former House Speaker.
Remember the “Highlights” magazine that we all used to read in the doctor’s office as children? There was a cartoon in the magazine titled “Goofus and Gallant”. Goofus was a youngster who always made poor decisions. Gallant was a young man who always tried to do the right thing.
At this moment – December 11, 2011 – guess which candidate is Goofus and which candidate is Gallant?
Yup…you guessed right.