McClatchy Newspapers' William Douglas reports:
Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, kept up his aggressive rhetorical attack against former House Speaker Newt Gingrich Monday, the last full day of campaigning before Florida’s Republican presidential primary.
Speaking at a morning rally at a Jacksonville forklift supply company, Romney jumped straight into attacking Gingrich.
“Speaker Gingrich wasn’t very happy with the debates,” Romney said. “He said in the first debate he didn’t do well because the crowd was too quiet. He said he didn’t do well because the crowd was too loud.”
Romney continued: “I think the real reason he hasn’t done so well in connecting with the people of Florida is the people actually saw him in those debates, listened to his background and experience and they learned, for instance, that he was paid $1.6 million to be a lobbyist for Freddie Mac and they said ‘That’s not what we want in the White House.’”
Romney told the crowd that Gingrich received money from Freddie Mac at the time the housing foreclosure crisis was in full swing.
“The idea that someone running for president at the time that was going on…that’s the real reason why Speaker Gingrich has had such a hard time,” Romney said. “If (people) want to see change Washington, you can’t just select the same people to take different chairs.”
Romney mocked a campaign promise Gingrich made on Florida’s Space Coast that, as president, he would return to manned space flight and establish a permanent U.S. colony on the moon.
“The idea of the moon as the 51st state is not what would come to my mind as a campaign basis for here in Florida,” Romney said.
As Romney spoke, Rick Tyler, a former Gingrich aide and top adviser of the pro-Gingrich Super PAC Winning Our Future stood in the audience inside the massive garage where the event was held and listened. Tyler said he intended to bird-dog Romney’s campaign stops.
After the first event, Tyler told a scrum of reporters that Romney was “a liar.”
“He said Newt Gingrich resigned in disgrace (from Congress), there’s no evidence of it. Newt Gingrich resigned honorably,” Tyler said. “Romney has said Newt Gingrich was fined $300,000 - $100,000 ethics. That’s not true. (Conservative columnist) Byron York did a good piece the other day that explained the whole story. It’s a long story but I encourage people to look at the truth and not believe the lie.”
Tyler’s Winning Our Future bankrolled the 28-minute anti-Romney documentary “King of Bain” which media and non-partisan fact-checking groups along with some conservative organizations and Republicans say contained several inaccuracies and overstatements about Romney’s tenure at Bain Capital.