As the GOP’s anointed successor, Romney got overconfident and relaxed on these issues, while Newt Gingrich skillfully played on the race grievances of the GOP base. Now Romney is struggling to get back on even footing with someone he didn’t think would be competition.
ORMOND BEACH, Fla. — Mitt Romney landed here Sunday with a simple message: Newt Gingrich is a failure and a fraud. And a disgrace. And a hapless showman.
Standing under a brilliant orange Florida sunset, Romney delivered his longest sustained critique of the South Carolina primary winner to date — ticking through a list as if he were reading off Gingrich’s Wikipedia page, and undercutting each item as he got to it.
“Speaker Gingrich has also been a leader,” the former Massachusetts governor said. “He was a leader for four years as speaker of the House. And at the end of four years, it was proven that he was a failed leader and he had to resign in disgrace. I don’t know whether you knew that, he actually resigned after four years, in disgrace.
Romney continued: “He was investigated over an ethics panel and had to make a payment associated with that and then his fellow Republicans, 88 percent of his Republicans voted to reprimand Speaker Gingrich. He has not had a record of successful leadership.”
Then Romney got into Gingrich’s post-congressional career.
“Over the last 15 years since he left the House, he talks about great bold movements and ideas,” he told the crowd of several hundred people gathered at a building materials company here. “Well, what’s he been doing for 15 years? He’s been working as a lobbyist, yeah, he’s been working as a lobbyist and selling influence around Washington.”