A new ad from a super PAC supporting former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney takes on former House speaker Newt Gingrich’s frequent mentions of Ronald Reagan.
“From debates you’d think Newt Gingrich was Ronald Reagan’s vice president,” the narrator of the ad, which is being sponsored by a group known as Restore Our Future, says. “Gingrich exagerrates, dropping Reagan’s name 50 times.” Clips of Gingrich invoking Reagan are the played .
“But in his diaries, Reagan mentions Gingrich only once,” the narrator continues. “Reagan criticized Gingrich, saying Newt’s ideas would ‘cripple our defense program.’ Reagan rejected Gingrich’s ideas. On leadership and character, Gingrich is no Ronald Reagan.”
Gingrich does refer to Reagan quite often — sometimes just to honor the godfather of modern conservatism, but other times to claim that he worked closely with the president in the 1980s. According to the New York Times’ Nate Silver, Gingrich has actually name-dropped Reagan 55 times.
And it’s true that Gingrich is mentioned in Reagan’s diaries only once, in 1983, and that the president rejected the young congressman’s proposal to freeze the budget (though he did call it a “tempting idea” before dismissing it.)
According to then-assistant Secretary of State Elliot Abrams, Gingrich consistently voted for Reagan’s policies but was known more for his public criticism of the president. However, Reagan National Security Advisory Bud McFarlane, a Gingrich supporter, said Wednesday the congressman was “very influential” in the adoption of supply-side economics and the economic recovery.
On CSPAN Monday morning, Gingrich told Romney to stay out of fights “about a history he doesn’t understand.”
Restore Our Future, which is staffed by former Romney aides and funded by many of the same donors who have given to Romney’s campaigns in the past, has dumped about $4 million into ads in Florida this week. Winning Our Future, a super PAC supporting Gingrich, just announced a $6 million buy in the state and came out with an ad claiming Romney “invented government-run health-care.”