DAVENPORT, Iowa — Can he win or can't he?
Even Newt Gingrich isn't sure, apparently. The Republican presidential candidate and former House speaker told reporters at a farm exhibit in Walford Monday: "I don't think I'm going to win." It was part bitter acknowledgment of the barrage of negative TV ads that have sunk his standing in Iowa. It was also part measurement of expectations at a time when Gingrich is planning to go the distance to South Carolina and Florida, where he plans to fight back with new vigor against the attacks.
But later, at his campaign office in Davenport, Gingrich told a small gathering of supporters something different: “We may pull off one of the greatest upsets in the history of the Iowa caucuses.”Gingrich was egged on in part by a man in the audience who told him he's been fibbing to pollsters calling his house all week.Gingrich noted, in response, that 41 percent of Iowa voters are open to changing their mind, meaning that the results of Tuesday's caucuses remain in flux.
Despite the variations in Gingrich's outlook, it's clear that he’s looking ahead to New Hampshire and beyond. He singled more strongly than ever Monday that he will produce TV ads going after former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney because an independent super PAC supporting Romney is responsible for most of the attacks against Gingrich. In an interview with Piers Morgan on CNN Monday, Gingrich blamed Romney for the attacks, which he described as being produced by “Romney's former staff” and paid for by "Romney's millionaire friends."
Romney should “just be man enough to stand up and say, 'You know, this is my negative campaign,’” Gingrich said.
Speaking to reporters Monday, Gingrich gave a preview of the contrasts he intends to draw with Romney: “Here we have a conservative who was with Ronald Reagan at a time when Romney was an independent. We have a conservative who in fact was with George H.W. Bush at a time when Romney was a Democrat voting for Paul Tsongas. You have a conservative who wrote the Contract With America at a time when Romney repudiated it. You have a conservative whose record of controlling government spending is dramatically better than Romney’s, and you have a conservative who voted against tax increases while Romney as governor raised taxes.”
“This is the first few minutes of the Superbowl,” Gingrich said. “I think it’s been a good three minutes for us. I think we’ve begun to lay out the themes that will work. I think we’ve seen Romney do his most intense negatives, and we now have had time to think through how to respond.”
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