The Romney campaign is beginning, as it did with Texas Gov. Rick Perry, its methodical search-and-destroy operation on Newt Gingrich. For the past few days, the campaign has made available by conference call a series of U.S. representatives who have recounted the tumult of the Gingrich years as speaker. Today, it was Reps. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), and John Campbell (R-Calif.), and the subject was ostensibly earmarks. But the zinger was on Gingrich’s role in lobbying on Medicare Part D.
Jeff Flake dubbed Gingrich the “father of contemporary earmarking” and accused Gingrich as speaker of telling appropriators to take congressional races into account when doling out the earmarks. Chaffetz widened the attack, making the case that those on the call were among the most conservative members of Congress, and Gingrich was no conservative. He argued that Gingrich has undermined conservatives, as he did by siding with Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on global warming and in attacking Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) on right-wing social engineering.
I asked the congressmen if they’d ever been lobbied by Gingrich. Flake answered that he hadn’t been individually but said that in the Medicare Part D debate, “[GOP congressman] Billy Tauzin brought Newt in as the closer.” Gingrich ended the GOP conference meeting declaring, “If you can’t pass that bill you don’t deserve to govern.” Ouch.
I imagine Flake might wind up in an ad or two.
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