Newt Gingrich, trying to reverse a slide in Iowa by positioning himself as the unabashedly positive alternative to his trash-talking rivals for the GOP presidential nomination, unleashed an unexpectedly harsh attack today against his chief rivals, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and Rep. Ron Paul, Los Angeles Times reports.
Gingrich said he couldn’t vote for Ron Paul if he were to become the GOP nomine.
When asked whom he would vote for if it came down to a choice between Paul and President Obama, he answered only that Paul could never be the Republican nominee.
“I think Ron Paul’s views are totally outside the mainstream of virtually every decent American,” Gingrich said.
He branded Paul a hypocrite for claiming he didn’t write — or even know about — inflammatory statements about race, homosexuality and religion in his newsletters decades ago.
“As a potential president, a person who thinks the United States was responsible for 9/11, a person who believes — who wrote in his newsletter that the World Trade Center bombing in ‘93 might have been a CIA plot,” Gingrich said.
Voters, said Gingrich, “will not accept somebody who thinks it’s irrelevant if Iran gets a nuclear weapon.”
“As a protest, he’s a reasonable candidate,” said Gingrich. “I don’t see how you can engage Ron Paul as the nominee.”
“I’d rather just say you look at Ron Paul’s total record of systemic avoidance of reality, and you look at his newsletters, and then you look at his ads,” Gingrich said, as reported by New York Daily News.
In the same interview on CNN, Gingrich also offered a testy rebuke to Mitt Romney.
“All I’d say is, ‘Mitt, if you want to run a negative campaign and you want to attack people, at least be man enough to own it.’ “
“All I’d say to Mitt is, if you want to run a negative campaign and you want to attack people at least be man enough to own up to it,” Gingrich said as he challenged Romney to a one-on-one, 90-minute Iowa debate, with no time-keeper and no moderator.
The sharp comments come as the former House speaker has seen his support slip in Iowa amid a barrage of attack ads that have cast him as an ethically challenged Washington insider.
According to the Huff Post, Gingrich and a political action committee supporting him each took the wraps off television spots that will run statewide in Iowa.
Gingrich has been the target of an avalanche of negative advertising, including TV spots, robocalls and brochures. He has often said in the last few days that he would take the high road.
Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, put down in $1.1 million in Iowa ads and a Romney-leaning PAC paid for another $2.85 million, according to a tally by the Des Moines Register.
Texas Gov. Rick Perry has spent $2.86 million in Iowa ads this month while Texas Congressman Ron Paul has burned through $1.37 million.
Much of the ads have been negative and aimed squarely at Gingrich.
Gingrich refused to comment on a CNN report that his version of how he came to be divorced from his first wife does not comport with a version in court documents that were stuck away in a drawer in the Georgia courthouse where the couple’s dissolution was handled. Gingrich has said that his wife initiated the divorce.
But the court filing found by CNN indicated that his wife, while acknowledging problems, did not want the divorce. “No,” said Gingrich, when asked for a response. “It’s 30 years old….That’s all I’m going to say.”