Make no mistake. Mitt Romney is on offense now. He’s releasing this ad in Florida:

And if that were not enough, Romney, at a press availability, hit the same themes. His campaign was pleased to send around the highlights:

“The Speaker was very animated about my releasing tax records – I am. I think it’s an appropriate observation that people should know if there’s going to be an ‘October Surprise.’ In the case of the Speaker, he’s got some records which could represent an October Surprise. We could see an October Surprise a day from Newt Gingrich.

Let’s see the records from the ethics investigation. Let’s see what they show.

Let’s see who his clients were at the time he was lobbying Republican congressmen for Medicare Part D. Was he working, or were his entities working, with any health care companies that could have benefited from that? That could represent not just evidence of lobbying but potentially wrongful activity of some kind.

And finally, let’s also see the relationship with Freddie Mac and the work product of Freddie Mac. Let’s have full disclosure of what’s going on. By the way, saying that Newt Gingrich is a lobbyist is just a matter of fact. He indicates that he doesn’t fall within the narrow definition of lobbyists that he might have in mind. But if you’re working for a company, getting paid for a company through one of your many entities and then you’re speaking with Congressmen in a way that would help that company, that’s lobbying. If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it’s a duck.”

Well, we know how the debate is going to go tonight. Gingrich refuses to admit his lowly status as a lobbyist. That doesn’t comport with his self-image. Moreover, he never registered as a lobbyist, so an admission on his part would entail some legal risk.

One additional note: Rick Santorum has every reason in the world to hit these same points. The fight tonight is quite likely to find Santorum and Romney on the same side. After all, both are making the case Gingirch is an untrustworthy Washington insider. This issue does rather nicely prove their point.