Mitt Romney tells ‘interrupters’ at rally to ‘take a hike’, goes after Gingrich head on
Mitt Romney opened an aggressive new phase of the Republican presidential campaign as he cruised into Florida on Sunday night — casting Newt Gingrich as an unethical politician whose temperament and unreliability led to his ouster as speaker of the House in the 1990s.
After a week in which he conceded his Iowa win to Rick Santorum after a recount and then lost to Gingrich by double digits in South Carolina, Romney acknowledged that the Republican contest had become a three-man race. But he took a much tougher tone toward Gingrich - directly raising the ethics investigation that Gingrich faced in the 1990s and demanding that Gingrich provide an accounting for the mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
“We’re not choosing a talk show host,” Romney said, alluding to his rival’s strong debate performances that helped shift momentum in his favor in South Carolina. “We’re choosing the person who should be leader of the free world.” He went on to list what he described as the qualities of a leader: integrity, sobriety, judgement, thoughtfulness, reliability, high ethical standards—“You’re going to have to look at that as Floridians and decide which of the people running for president on our side of the aisle includes the qualities of leadership.”
After touting his own experience in the private sector, turning around the 2002 Olympic games and governing the state of Massachusetts, Romney pivoted to Gingrich.
“At the end of four years as Speaker of the House, it was proven that he was a failed leader,” Romney said. “He had to resign in disgrace. I don’t know whether you knew that… His fellow Republicans - 88% of his Republicans - voted to reprimand Speaker Gingrich. He has not had a record of successful leadership.”
Romney repeated his call for Gingrich to release all documents that he submitted to the House Ethics Committee during its probe into his fundraising activities in the 1990s. As a result of the investigation, House members from both parties sanctioned Gingrich and he was forced to pay a $300,000 fine.