Photograph by Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images.
Newt Gingrich on Tuesday accused Mitt Romney and his supporters of running a "negative smear campaign" through a pro-Romney super PAC.
"Understand, these are his people running his ads, doing his dirty work while he pretends to be above it," Gingrich, who is currently tied atop the national polls with Romney, told reporters at a campaign appearance in Ottumwa, Iowa. "I don’t object to being outspent. I object to lies. I object to negative smear campaigns."
"I think these guys hire consultants who get drunk, sit around and write stupid ads," Gingrich added. "Every one of these candidates should take responsibility for the lies they are putting up."
Gingrich has been battered by a recent string of negative ads from his GOP rivals, particularly in Iowa, where the former House speaker has seen his recent political momentum slowed. In a recent poll, Gingrich fell to third place in the state, behind Ron Paul and Romney. Perhaps more noteworthy was the fact that Gingrich's favorability numbers in the state have plummeted, from +31 only two weeks ago to -1 this week, no doubt thanks in large part to the attack ads branding him as an Washington insider.
Most of the attacks in the campaign have come via super PACs, groups that are (in theory, at least) independent but that can spend money on political advertisements as long as they don't coordinate with individual campaigns. Earlier Tuesday, Romney admitted that so-called super PACs have been a "disaster" but said the he was prohibited from urging groups like Restore Our Future (a pro-Romney group) to stand down.
“I’m not allowed to communicate with a super PAC in any way, shape or form,” Romney said on MSNBC. “If we coordinate in any way whatsoever, we go to the big house.”
Gingrich read those remarks to reporters during his appearance, labeling them “baloney."