Newt Gingrich has taken every position possible on the issue of negative ads. Gingrich isn't known for his consistency, but his evolution on the meaner side of politics is more dramatic and quicker than usual. In September, he complained that only the media wanted Republicans to attack each other for the sake of their one true love, Barack Obama. In December, he said he would denounce anyone who went negative on his behalf. This week, the super PAC that backs him announced it would air the longest and most negative attack ad of the whole campaign. So far, the superPAC backing Gingrich has been outspent by three other candidates, but the anti-Romney half-hour drama it intends to air will bump it up to second place. Restore Our Future, the pro-Romney group, has spent $7 million so far, NBC News' Mark Murray reports, and while the Gingrich group has spent just $1.3 million on ads, the $3.4 million ad buy in South Carolina will bring Gingrich ahead of the well-financed Rick Perry and son-of-a-billionaire Jon Huntsman. Naturally, the Gingrich group's ad will be the most negative ad so far. Gingrich's own campaign released a pretty negative ad Tuesday, too.
Gingrich, in a primary debate, September 7, 2011:
"I for one and I hope that all of my friends up here are going to repudiate every effort of the news media to get Republicans to fight each other, to protect Barack Obama who deserves to be defeated."
Gingrich to reporters, December 12:
"I`ll release a letter to my staff, to any consultants, and to any surrogates we have... indicating that should any super PAC that is doing so in my name attack any of my friends who are running, that I would publicly disown them and urge people not to donate to them."
Gingrich in a letter to staff, December 13:
"It is critical the Republican nominee emerge from this primary campaign un-bloodied, so that he or she can make the case against President Obama from a position of strength."
Gingrich to Iowa voters, December 20, 2011:
“The next time you see one of the candidates who’s running the negative ads, ask them to take it off the air... Just say to 'em, 'It demeans America' and the other person it helps in the long run is Barack Obama."
Gingrich to reporters, January 1, 2012:
“I feel Romney-boated.”
Gingrich to ABC News' Jon Karl, January 2, 2012:
"Everything we say will have Romney's quotes, Romney's videotape, Romney's record. It will all be based explicitly on Romney."
Gingrich's concession speech after the Iowa caucuses, January 3, 2012:
"We are not going to go out and run nasty ads. We’re not going to go out and run 30-second gut shots. We’re not -- but I do reserve the right to tell the truth. ... [T]ogether we survived, I think, the biggest onslaught in the history of the Iowa primary and we set the stage."
January 4, 2012:
New ad released: "Timid vs. Bold." (Guess who is who.)
January 8, 2012:
Winning Our Future releases the trailer to its 28-minute Romney capitalism slasher flick: "Capitalism made America great -- free markets, innovation, hard work -- the building blocks of the American Dream. But in the wrong hands, some of those dreams can turn into nightmares."
Gingrich, to Fox News' Sean Hannity, January 9, 2012
"Frankly I tried to warn Governor Romney and I said, over and over for two solid weeks: This is not a good idea -- this is not a campaign we want to get into. And he kept coming back and saying that, you know, I need to develop broad shoulders, and if I couldn’t take the heat get out of the kitchen... Well, I’ve been doing this for a long, long time and I’m quite capable of doing what needs to be done -- he has set the terms of the campaign."
January 10, 2012:
The New York Times' Jeremy W. Peters reports that "Newt Gingrich has officially done away with the shades of gray in his anti-Mitt Romney ads." A narrator says:
"What happened after Massachusetts moderate Mitt Romney changed his pro-abortion position to pro-life? He governed pro-abortion. Romney appointed a pro-abortion judge, expanded access to abortion pills, put Planned Parenthood on a state medical board…. He can't be trusted."
And of course, way back in 1990, Gingrich revolutionized negative attacks on opponents, telling Republicans they could learn to talk like him by practicing using key works like "anti-flag; anti-family; criminal rights; welfare; traitors; endanger; bizarre; radical; sick; corrupt." He supported Citizens United, the Supreme Court case that made these superPACs legal. Gingrich doesn't like the taste of his own medicine, but he's not going to stop dishing it out.