Posted at 04:21 PM ET, 03/04/2012

In South, Mitt Romney’s attacks against rivals more subtle

SNELLVILLE, Ga. – Mitt Romney campaigned Sunday in his most unfriendly territory – the South – and did not mention either of his two top rivals for the Republican presidential nomination.

 Romney did not bring up Newt Gingrich, even though the former
GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney. (Associated Pres)
House speaker holds a comfortable lead in the polls here in his home state of Georgia. Nor did he mention Rick Santorum, the former Pennsylvania senator who is expected to do well among powerful evangelical Christian voters in Tuesday’s primaries here and in Tennessee, where Romney was to campaign Sunday evening.

But that doesn’t mean Romney ignored the two men. Just read between the lines.

 When a voter in Snellville asked Romney what he would do to bring gas prices down, Romney ticked off a slew of policy prescriptions: from licensing more federal lands to allowing more offshore drilling to developing the Keystone pipeline.

 But, the former Massachusetts governor said, “I’m not gonna come here and pander to you and say here’s what your gasoline price will be if I do all those things.”

 This was an indirect swipe at Gingrich, who has promised to get gas prices to just $2.50 per gallon and emblazoned $2.50 gas price logos on his campaign bus to amplify his message.

 This is Romney’s way to attack a rival without, well, attacking a rival.

 Consider how Romney touted his own business experience. And, again, read between the lines.

 “The economy is what I do, it’s what I know, it’s what I’ve done,” Romney said. “I haven’t just read about it. I haven’t just debated about it. I haven’t just talked about it on subcommittees. I’ve actually done it – started businesses, run businesses. I know how to do it.”

Romney, of course, was banking on voters figuring out that he was talking about Santorum and Gingrich, whom he and his allies have relentlessly cast as lifelong legislators corrupted by Washington’s ways.

By  |  04:21 PM ET, 03/04/2012

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