Mitt Romney, former Massachusetts governor and GOP presidential candidate, at an outdoor rally at Wofford University Wednesday compared former House Speaker Newt Gingrich to former Vice President Al Gore.
The Washington Post reports that Romney mocked Gingrich's claim at a presidential debate Monday, that he "worked with President Ronald Reagan" to create 16 million jobs. Los Angeles Times reports that Romney said, "You know, the speaker just the other day at the debate was talking about how he created millions of jobs when he was working with the Reagan administration. Well, he’d been in Congress two years when Ronald Reagan came to office. That would be like saying 435 congressmen were all responsible for those jobs. Government doesn’t create jobs. It’s the private sector that creates jobs."
Romney continued: "Congressmen taking responsibility or taking credit for helping create jobs is like Al Gore taking credit for the Internet...Look, you're the guys in America that put Americans to work. Not congressmen, not even presidents. And this president's got it entirely wrong when he attacks the private sector."
Romney's direct attack on Gingrich is a significant departure from his previous affectation of aloofness and unconcern about his GOP rivals. Newser says that his comment reflects he is feeling the pressure from Gingrich in South Carolina. Romney campaign, as expected, denied that they see Gingrich as a threat.
Gingrich, at a rally in Warrenville Wednesday, taunted Romney, saying that his comments show he is "desperate." Gingrich, making a reference to Romney's well-funded campaign, said: "They thought they could buy this. They're discovering they can't."
The latest CNN poll says Romney is leading Gingrich 33 percent to 23 percent, and analysts speculate that Romney campaign's internal polling may have indicated that the poll margin between Romney and Gingrich is closing.
Los Angeles Times reports Romney's campaign Wednesday, hosted a conference call during which two former congressional colleagues of Gingrich, former senator and congressman from Missouri Jim Talent, and a former representative from New York Susan Molinari, attacked Gingrich, describing his leadership as unreliable. They blamed Gingrich for Bill Clinton's re-election in 1996 and said his style of "leadership by chaos" contributed to the negative public perception of the Republican Party during Clinton's administration. According to Molinari, "He (Gingrich) made himself the issue all the time. The focus is always Newt, and when the focus is Newt the Republican Party loses."