With Newt Gingrich set to officially exit the presidential race Wednesday, the Obama campaign preempted his anticipated endorsement of Mitt Romney by releasing a highlight reel of Gingrich’s strongest anti-Romney statements.
In the video, Gingrich calls Romney a liar, characterizes him as a corporate raider, decries the Swiss bank account he held until 2010, and says he is the most anti-immigrant candidate in the Republican field.
“As a man who wants to run for president of the United States who can’t be honest with the American people, why should we expect him to level about anything if he’s president?” Gingrich says in the ad.
Gingrich has said for weeks that he would support Romney in a general election contest with President Obama, pledging to “do everything I can to help elect him.” But the Obama campaign, in a press release accompanying the ad, suggested Gingrich’s backing of Romney will be neither effective nor enthusiastic — that he will “begrudgingly fall in line with everyone else.”
One attack included in the video features Gingrich questioning Romney’s ability to defeat Obama.
“The Romney machine can drive down turnout, it can run over opponents with negative ads; it doesn’t seem capable of inspiring positive turnout, and the result is, I think, very worrisome if you’re thinking about the fall campaign,” the former House speaker says.
The ad concludes with a blunt assertion by Gingrich. Asked in a January interview with CBS’s Bob Schieffer and Norah O’Donnell whether he is calling Romney a liar, Gingrich offered a one-word answer: “Yes.”
In a later interview last month, Schieffer recalled the exchange and asked Gingrich how he could endorse Romney after calling him a liar.
“Because there’s an alternative,” Gingrich said. “I mean, you didn’t say to me in an ideal world is Mitt Romney the person I’d like to have as president? First of all, that person is Newt Gingrich. … There’s no question in my mind that Mitt Romney would be a dramatically better president, as would Rick Santorum, than Barak Obama, in terms of the values I hold dear. So it comes down to a question: If you end up with those as your two choices, I would do everything I could do to defeat Barack Obama.”
The Romney campaign did not respond directly to the ad’s content Wednesday but continued to accuse the president of employing political distractions to avoid discussing the economy.
“President Obama and his campaign will do anything to avoid talking about his record of failure, and they certainly don’t want to talk about his plans to increase taxes on entrepreneurs and small businesses,” Romney spokeswoman Amanda Henneberg said. “Too many Americans are struggling to find good jobs and make ends meet. Instead of working to fix the economy, President Obama prefers to point fingers and launch political attacks. Americans deserve better over the next four years.”
The Romney campaign released its own video Wednesday hitting Obama on several economic measures. Using the imagery of a clear blue sky and the sound of chirping birds, the ad flashes back to Obama’s speech at the 2008 Democratic National Convention.
“We measure progress by how many people can find a job that pays the mortgage,” Obama said, “whether you can put a little extra money away at the end of each month so you can someday watch your child receive her college diploma.”
The blue sky and birds are replaced by dark clouds and ominous music, as onscreen text delivers sober statistics: The median household income has declined by $4,300 under Obama, according to a Bloomberg report. The unemployment rate has been over 8 percent for 38 straight months, and almost 23 million Americans are unemployed, underemployed, or have stopped looking for work, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Callum Borchers can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @callumborchers.