Romney says Newt ‘really can’t whine about negative campaigning’by George Bennett | January 31st, 2012
“In South Carolina we were vastly outspent with negative ads attacking me and we stood back and talked about President Obama and suffered the consequence of that, plus also I think some good debates from Speaker Gingrich. We came to Florida and Speaker Gingrich didn’t have two good debates — I did,” Romney told reporters.
“We responded to attacks that were coming to us and I’ll tell you, when we’re attacked, I’m not just going to sit back, I’m going to fight back and fight back hard.”
Romney pointed to a Suffolk University poll in which 37 percent of Florida voters said Gingrich ran the most negative campaign, compared to 31 percent who said Romney was the most negative.
“He really can’t whine about negative campaigning when he launched a very negative campaign in South Carolina and when the people in Florida looked at the two campaigns and decided he was the most negative,” Romney said.
Romney began his remarks by seizing on a report that Obama told the wife of an unemployed engineer that it was “interesting” her husband couldn’t find a job.
“I think this underscores the fact that the president is really out of touch with what’s happening in America, what’s happening here in Florida,” said Romney, turning around a line of attack Democrats frequently use against him.
Later, Romney said Gingrich was preventing him from talking more about Obama.
“I would like to spend more of our time focusing on President Obama. That’s ultimately what’s going to be essential to taking back the White House. But I’m not going to stand back and allow another candidate to define me. His comments most recently attacking me have been really quite sad and I think painfully revealing about the speaker and what he’s willing to say and do to try and take the nomination. So I just can’t stand back and let him say those things about me without responding,” Romney said.
Romney was asked if there were any lessons he’s learned from his loss in South Carolina 10 days ago and his expected Florida victory today.
“If we’re successful here,” Romney said, “it’ll be pretty clear that when attacked, you have to respond. And you can’t let charges go unanswered.”
Romney’s tough talk toward Gingrich comes as the former House speaker vows to wage a protracted fight for the GOP nomination regardless of today’s result. Romney said he’s prepared for such a battle.
“This could be a long process going state to state, getting support in each state. I intend to do that. We have the time and the calendar and the team and the organization to be able to, I believe, get the delegates to become the nominee,” Romney said.
On hand at Romney headquarters today were two of his top Florida surrogates — Attorney General Pam Bondi and Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam. Republican Party of Florida Chairman Lenny Curry also dropped by, though RPOF spokesman Brian Hughes said the chairman wasn’t making an endorsement and will be visiting other campaigns.