On The Road

December 30th, 2011

Gingrich Fires Back Against Negative Attacks, Tries to Set Record Straight

Newt Gingrich estimates that opponents have spent $68 million on negative advertising designed to bring down his poll numbers. It worked. One month ago, polls showed the former House Speaker running away with an Iowa victory. The latest numbers place him in fourth place.

“Iowa has a chance to send a signal that will change American politics,” Gingrich told a crowd of 80 in Denison on Thursday. “I don’t know anybody that’s been hit by $68 million in negative ads and is still standing. And so, you have a real chance to change history.”

He echoed those sentiments during a stop in Carroll, in front of a crowd of 150. “Iowa could Tuesday night to say no to people who run negative ads,” Gingrich said. “That would revolutionize presidential politics which has become increasingly sick and increasingly negative over the past 20 years.”

Gingrich faced tough questions at the Carroll stop. One attendee asked about his failings on the campaign trail, including the huge purchases at Tiffany’s and failing to get on the ballot in Virginia. “How can we trust that you can run the campaign that will take on Barack Obama,” quizzed one local caucus goer.

Gingrich responded that he played key roles in sweeping Republican victories in 1980, 1994 and 1996. Then he lashed out at his critics. “I’m a lot like Ronald Reagan,” Gingrich said. “The elite media is not going to give me a break. One of the ways you can tell who the moderate is and who the conservative is, is who is the elite media treating nice. I was shocked in June and July by the number of people I thought were my friends, even at Fox, who the minute they thought they could kill me went all out.”

The former Georgia congressman says he is a target because he is “a threat to their world. I am determined to change Washington, not to work with it. I am determined to change the way the establishment operates. So, if you want a soft campaign, you need to pick someone who’s going to sell out.”

Newt Gingrich admits that his campaign was saved by the debates, where he consistently excelled. Unfortunately for Gingrich, the most recent GOP debate was his toughest yet and there will not be another one until after Iowans cast their votes.

Later in Carroll, Gingrich was grilled about his involvement with mortgage giants Fannie Mac and Freddie Mac. That has been the subject of many of the attacks on Gingrich’s record. Gingrich said he wrote an article about Freddie Mac, which should be enough to clear up the misconceptions.

“And that article includes, ‘You need to have more regulations’. This is before the disaster,” Gingrich said. “The disaster occurs. The only time I talked to the House Republicans about Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac is in the New York Times. This is not secret. Any of my opponents could have Googled this and found it before they ran ads that were false.”

Gingrich explained that the NY Times article states he told the House Republicans, “Do not give them the money. Vote no on the housing bill because they shouldn’t get bailed out.”

Those defenses seemed to satisfy the crowd in Carroll. Several attendees told TheIowaRepublican.com they were impressed with the former House Speaker. “Oh I liked it,” said Lon Leiting. “I kind of like his vision of the future. He’s a good speaker and I love to hear Newt talk. He’s got a history of getting stuff done.”

“He’s on target,” said Matt Greteman of Carroll. “We need somebody that’s going to look at the issues and have solutions for how to get things done and he’s got those. I don’t care if he ruffles feathers. Quite frankly, I’m pleased that the established people don’t like him.”

The former House Speaker’s event in Denison also was well received. He drew a larger crowd there than any recent presidential candidate, according to Crawford County GOP Chair Gwen Ecklund. “I thought he was excellent and the audience was very responsive,” she said.

Gingrich originally scheduled a 44-county tour for the final week before the Iowa Caucus. That trip was sliced in half. He has three stops scheduled for Friday.

Photo by Dave Davidson, Prezography.com

About the Author

Kevin Hall
Kevin Hall brings almost two decades of journalistic experience to TheIowaRepublican. Starting in college as a radio broadcaster, Hall eventually became a television anchor/reporter for stations in North Carolina, Missouri, and Iowa. During the 2007 caucus cycle, Hall changed careers and joined the political realm. He was the northwest Iowa field director for Fred Thompson's presidential campaign. Hall helped Terry Branstad return to the governor's office by organizing southwest Iowa for Branstad's 2010 campaign. Hall serves as a reporter/columnist for TheIowaRepublican.com.

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