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Political notebook

Gingrich calls Romney liar over role in ads

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ON THE OFFENSIVE - GOP candidate Newt Gingrich had said he would run a positive campaign, but yesterday hinted that he was reconsidering that tactic.

Newt Gingrich called Mitt Romney a liar yesterday for saying he has no role in or responsibility for a barrage of negative television ads credited with damaging the former House speaker’s campaign in Iowa.

During an interview with CBS News, Gingrich, who was leading the polls in Iowa just three weeks ago, said “baloney’’ to the idea that Romney had nothing to do with the ads from an independent group, a super PAC called Restore Our Future, which is backing the former Massachusetts governor. Those ads are credited, in part, with exposing Gingrich’s inconsistencies and vulnerabilities, in his personal life and career. As Romney has risen to the top of the most recent polls in Iowa, Gingrich tumbled to the middle of the pack.

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“This is a man whose staff created the PAC and his millionaire friends fund the PAC,’’ Gingrich said on “The Early Show.’’

“He’s not telling the American people the truth,’’ he said. “It’s just like his pretense that he’s a conservative.’’

When asked if he was calling Romney a liar, Gingrich answered “yes.’’

Gingrich, powered by a series of strong debate performances in the fall, had vowed to run a positive campaign, and his advertisements have mostly focused on his ability to lead the nation. Yesterday he hinted that he was reconsidering that tactic.

The “liar’’ label is particularly incendiary and goes beyond previous gibes at Romney as a candidate prone to shift positions.

Romney has previously said he understood Gingrich’s anger over the ads but being a front-runner means being able to take the slings and arrows of the campaign. — BOBBY CAINA CALVAN

On stump in Iowa, Romney plies family connections

DES MOINES - Mitt Romney’s wrap-up on the trail in Iowa was a family affair, sprinkled both with humbling reflections of generations past and impish irreverence from new generations.

In introducing her husband before he made a final pitch to caucus goers, Ann Romney brought up her forefathers and Mitt Romney’s father, George, who was a major influence in both Mitt and Ann Romney’s lives.

“We would never be on this path if it were not for George Romney,’’ Ann Romney said. “We would be back in Boston still in the professional business world, I’m sure of it. He was the one whose shoulders we’re standing on today.’’

In many ways, Mitt Romney’s father was - and remains - a beacon in his life. Like his son, George Romney was immensely successful in business, building American Motors Corp. from a struggling amalgam of a company into a challenger to the Big Three automakers in Detroit. The two also served as Republican governors in Democratic-dominated states, Mitt in Massachusetts and George in Michigan.

George Romney also failed in a run for the presidency; unlike his son, he did not attempt a second candidacy. George Romney died in 1995.

“You think of family on days like today,’’ Ann Romney added.

Yesterday, the Romneys were out in full force. Four of Romney’s five sons stood with him, as did his brother, Scott.

As Romney signed autographs, some of his sons held impromptu news conferences.

When asked about family voting-day traditions, Tagg Romney replied: “We all go get totally wasted.’’

He added that he was kidding, then realized the joke may have been better left unsaid in front of rolling tape recorders. “Unlike my father, I’ve never actually had a sip of alcohol,’’ he added.

“Uh, I probably shouldn’t have said that.’’

His brother Josh was more on-point. “We’ll just go sit as a family and talk - probably about anything but politics,’’ he said. “Maybe get some chocolate shakes, it’s usually a tradition.’’

When an Italian television reporter asked Josh Romney to explain why his father should be president, he first inquired, “In Italian or English?’’ He did the interview in English and, when asked if he would then do it in Italian, said, “Ciao. That’s all I’ve got.’’ — MATT VISER

Romney’s Florida ad touts his leadership, marriage

DES MOINES - Mitt Romney’s campaign is going on the air in Florida.

Hours before Iowans started casting their votes in the first test of 2012, the Romney campaign announced it will begin running an ad in Florida that touts him as a leader of “steadiness and constancy.’’ It also highlights his 42-year marriage to his wife, Ann.

The campaign has aired the same ad in Iowa and other early-primary states.

The decision to go on Florida’s airwaves points out the importance of the Sunshine State, the largest and most diverse of the early states. Florida votes on Jan. 31.

The Florida ad buy is at least $770,000, starts today, and will run through Tuesday’s New Hampshire primary. The ad buy would make him the first candidate to go on the air in Florida.

So far, Romney has not aired negative TV ads. Instead, an independent organization that supports his candidacy has spent millions on ads harshly critical of rivals Newt Gingrich and Rick Perry.

The Restore Our Future super PAC has also begun airing the negative ads in Florida. — GLOBE WIRES

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