Politics

01.26.12

Newt Gingrich Gets Angry Again in Florida

With Florida’s high-stakes primary closing in, Gingrich barnstormed the state with harsh new attacks against the ‘grotesquely hypocritical’ Mitt Romney. Lois Romano reports.

Hell hath no fury like a Newt Gingrich scorned.

In a preview of what’s to come in tonight’s debate, an angry Newt Gingrich lashed out at his chief rival Mitt Romney, accusing him for running a negative and dishonest campaign against him.

“There is something so grotesquely hypocritical about the Romney campaign,” he said. ”I am angry and every American should be angry.”

The former House speaker went onto to assail Romney for harping on Gingrich’s work for mortgage lender for Freddie Mac when Romney himself owns Freddie Mac stock.

“He owns a Goldman Sachs subsidiary that forecloses on Floridians. He is surrounded by lobbyists who are paid by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to stop reform,” said Gingrich following an enthusiastic Tea Party rally in Mt. Dora, Fla. “And on that front, he decides to lie about my career?”

Polls show the men neck and neck—though there are signs that Gingrich’s momentum is slipping—heading into Tuesday’s primary here. A win for Gingrich would raise serious questions whether Romney, once a comfortable frontrunner, could recover. Gingrich has been met with large crowds around the state, while Romney has swamped the airwaves with paid ads. At every Gingrich stop of late, Romney surrogates have been showing up to refute his comments.

The ex-speaker will need a strong performance at the Jacksonville debate tonight. He thrives on audience reaction and he will likely get it; unlike Monday’s debate in Tampa, where NBC asked the audience to keep silent—which Gingrich complained about—tonight’s crowd will be allow to cheer.

“The Washington establishment is going fight me every step to the nomination.”

Gingrich could barely contain his rage as he addressed about 1,500 people in the central Florida town. “They think we’re so stupid,” he said defiantly at least 10 times referring to his opponents—Romney, Barack Obama, and/or the Washington establishment.

He called the negative ads against him “junk” and “the desperate last stand of the old order … to try to drown us in mud.”

To reporters later, he was even blunter.

“To have somebody who was an independent in the ‘80s, who gave money to Democrats in ‘92, and who voted in the democratic primary for [Paul] Tsongas—to have his campaign take on a lifetime of work and lie about it, frankly I do find infuriating,” said Gingrich.

“It is one of the most dishonest things I’ve see in politics. I mean at some level there ought to be a sense of shame for someone being this fundamentally dishonest.”

Gingrich reiterated the view that his surge has panicked establishment Republicans who support Romney and who see a Gingrich nomination as a death knell for November: “The Washington establishment is going fight me every step to the nomination.”

He’s right about that.