The Newt Gingrich campaign bus is rolling again Monday morning, leaving Waterloo, where the candidate spent the night and heading straight east to the small town of Independence. The venue? Heartland Acres Agribition Center, a modest-size exhibition hall for small, regional agribusiness conferences with a lot of interesting old farm implements on display, and a shop with some pretty cool toy tractors.
Gingrich continues to try to reverse a slide in public opinion polls and voter perception. I've heard from many Iowans in the last week or so who had been leaning toward the former House speaker a few weeks ago, but now feel he may have too much baggage to be the GOP nominee for president. Certainly, the intense negative ad campaign targeting him has been effective and, on Sunday, Gingrich fought back against the man he says is the main source of the anti-Newt air campaign: Mitt Romney.
As I reported in my Morning Edition piece, when asked if feels he's been "swift-boated," ala Democrat John Kerry in 2004, Gingrich responded, "No. I've been Romney-boated."
One interesting side note: Gingrich was asked at that event in Marshalltown on Sunday about the Citizens United ruling by the US Supreme Court, which led to the creation of Super PACs that raise and spend unlimited amounts on behalf of or against any candidate. Restore Our Future is the Super PAC that supports Romney and is behind most of the attacks on Gingrich.
"I think the current mess is a disgrace," Gingrich said of the wide-open negative spending allowed by Citizens United. "I think it debilitates politics. I think it strengthens millionaires, and it weakens middle-class candidates."
"My solution would be to eliminate all the election laws, and allow people to give unlimited personal money after tax and file every night, and let the candidates run the campaigns and have the candidates run the campaign and have the candidate be responsible," Gingrich said.
Gingrich isn't happy with Romney saying he has nothing to do with the Super PAC attacks and his appearing to stay above the fray. Gingrich points out many of the Super PAC's donors are Romney donors, and that it has several former Romney staffers.
And then the man who has been insisting on a positive message turned pretty negative. Of Romney, Gingrich said, "somebody who will lie to you to get to be president, will lie to you when they are president."